In the latest example of the life science sector‘s appeal to alt players, T-cell therapy specialist Neogene Therapeutics raised $110 million in a Series A round co-led by private equity firms Jeito Capital and Ecor1 Capital, along with British healthcare trust Syncona.
Neogene’s research, which is still in the preclinical stage, aims to identify neoantigen specific T-cell receptor genes that will subsequently be engineered T cell therapies for solid tumors. T cell treatments are part of the cancer immunotherapy market, which is expected to reach a value of $103 billion in 2024, according to GBI Research.
“While engineered T cell therapies have transformed the treatment paradigm for patients with hematologic malignancies, the industry has struggled to translate this success to the enormous unmet need in patients with advanced solid tumors,” said Neogene CEO and Co-founder Carsten Linnemann. The company’s proprietary technology, which involves uses state-of-the-art DNA sequencing, and genetic screening tools, can make engineered T cell therapies “broadly accessible to these patients,” he added.
The Series A round that closed today marks the first investment for Paris-based Jeito Capital, whose founder and CEO, Rafaèle Tordjman has straddled the boundary between biotech and finance in her decades-long career. Trained as a hemato-oncologist, Tordjman was a researcher at the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research and a managing partner at venture capital firm before launching Jeito in January with €200 million (US$238 million) from institutional investors and family offices.
Jeito plans to fund about 15 innovative biotech start-ups that have potential to become future market leaders in therapeutic areas with high unmet need. “Neogene’s approach perfectly aligns with Jeito’s mission,” Tordjman said.
For its part, San Francisco-based EcoR1 Capital has been around since 2012 with an exclusive focus on biotechnology, and has logged 51 investments and 32 exits. “We believe that Neogene’s technology and therapeutic approach has the potential to become a game changer for the treatment of cancer,” said EcoR1 Founder and Managing Director Oleg Nodelman.
The third co-leader of the round was Syncona, a FTSE 250 healthcare trust focused on bringing cutting-edge health care technologies to market. Seed investors Two River, Vida Ventures and TPG Capital also participated in the round; all three are private equity firms, and while TPG has a diversified portfolio, the two other seed investors is exclusively focused on life sciences. The trio also backed the 2018 launch of Allogene Therapeutics.