Wugen Raises $172 Million to Advance Clinical Stage Memory NK Cell Platform, Progress Best-In-Class AML Program, and Initiate Multiple Solid Tumor Trials
-- Proceeds to advance clinical development of WU-NK-101 for relapsed/refractory AML, and initiate studies in solid tumor indications --
-- Oversubscribed Series B co-led by Abingworth and Tybourne Capital Management, and joined by Fidelity Management & Research Company and Intermediate Capital Group (ICG) as well as existing investors RiverVest Venture Partners, LYZZ Capital, and Lightchain Capital --
-- Wugen technology licensed from Washington University in St. Louis --
ST. LOUIS & SAN DIEGO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Wugen, Inc., a clinical stage biotechnology company developing a pipeline of off-the-shelf cell therapies, today announced the completion of an oversubscribed $172 million Series B financing led by Abingworth and Tybourne Capital Management, and joined by new investors Fidelity Management & Research Company, Intermediate Capital Group (ICG), Sands Capital, Aisling Capital Management, Alexandria Venture Investments, Velosity Capital and Falcon Edge Capital. Existing investors, including RiverVest Venture Partners, LYZZ Capital, and Lightchain Capital, also participated. In connection with the financing, Bali Muralidhar, M.D., Ph.D., Managing Partner at Abingworth, Bosun Hau, Managing Director at Tybourne Capital Management, and Peter Kiener, Ph.D., Venture Partner at ICG, will join Wugen’s Board of Directors. The proceeds of the financing will support further clinical development of Wugen’s best-in-class memory natural killer (NK) cell platform and advance ongoing trials for patients with severe acute myelogenous leukemia (AML) and other oncology indications, including solid tumors. Wugen also plans to apply these proceeds to advance its broader pipeline of next-generation products into the clinic, including its allogeneic CD7-targeted CAR-T cell therapy to treat T-cell leukemia and lymphoma.
Dan Kemp, Ph.D., President and Chief Executive Officer of Wugen, said, “We have tremendous confidence that our off-the-shelf memory NK cell platform will give rise to a significant pipeline of highly effective and safe anti-cancer therapies. In an ongoing Phase 1/2 clinical trial, our lead product WU-NK-101 has demonstrated an impressive complete response rate in relapsed/refractory AML and we look forward to advancing into a global multi-center study later this year. In parallel, we’re also pursuing solid tumor indications both as monotherapy and in combination with antibody drugs. The rapid growth of the company could not have happened without the commitment of RiverVest Venture Partners, and in particular the vision and leadership of John McKearn as our founding CEO.”
“We’re delighted to welcome these premier investors as Wugen stakeholders as we build on the significant potential for the company’s unique memory NK cell platform,” said John McKearn, Ph.D., Managing Director at RiverVest Venture Partners and Chairman of the Board of Directors of Wugen. “This significant capital raise will enable Wugen to advance its off-the-shelf cell therapies to develop a broad and differentiated oncology pipeline.”
Wugen’s memory NK cell platform, with enhanced tumor-killing functionality and in vivo persistence, is designed to overcome the limitations of conventional NK cell therapies. In clinical studies, WU-NK-101 was shown to be highly effective against AML, including in patients with a high burden of disease, and without causing cytokine release syndrome (CRS) or neurotoxicity.
Wugen utilizes its proprietary GMP-grade fusion molecules to manufacture and scale its memory NK cell products using cells from healthy donors. In addition, Wugen’s feeder cell-free expansion and cryopreservation method enables an off-the-shelf treatment approach, with the opportunity for streamlined global distribution and convenient outpatient dosing for cancer patients.
“We’re excited to participate in this financing round with Wugen and are confident this exceptional team will deliver on the promise of memory NK cells,” added Bali Muralidhar, M.D., Ph.D., Managing Director at Abingworth. “We believe that Wugen’s strong collaborative partnership with Washington University is also a key strength, especially at the translational level, where co-founders and world-class investigators Todd Fehniger, M.D., Ph.D., John DiPersio, M.D., Ph.D., Melissa Berrien-Elliott, Ph.D., and Matt Cooper, Ph.D., who is also Wugen’s Chief Scientific Officer, provide critical support.”
Wugen, Inc., is a clinical-stage biotechnology company developing a pipeline of off-the-shelf memory natural killer (NK) cell therapies to treat a broad range of hematological and solid tumor malignancies. Memory NK cells are hyper-functional, long-lasting immune cells that have evolved to attack cancer and respond to infection. Wugen is harnessing the power of this rare cell population by using its proprietary technologies to create WU-NK-101, currently in clinical development for acute myelogenous leukemia (AML). In addition, Wugen is developing a pipeline of programs targeting solid tumor indications. For more information, please visit www.wugen.com.
Abingworth is a leading transatlantic life sciences investment firm. Abingworth helps transform cutting-edge science into novel medicines by providing capital and expertise to top calibre management teams building world-class companies. Since 1973, Abingworth has invested in over 170 life science companies, leading to 44 M&As and 71 IPOs. Abingworth’s therapeutic focused investments fall into three categories: seed and early-stage, development stage, and clinical co-development. Abingworth supports its portfolio companies with a team of experienced professionals at offices in London, Menlo Park (California), and Boston. For more information, please visit www.abingworth.com.
Tybourne Capital Management is a global growth investor in public and private equity markets, focusing on investments in the Healthcare, Consumer, Financials and TMT sectors. The firm was founded in 2012 and is headquartered in Hong Kong with an office in San Francisco. Tybourne manages long duration capital on behalf of prominent non-profits, university endowments, sovereigns, corporate pensions and family offices. For more information, please visit www.tybournecapital.com.