Back in early April, Arie Belldegrun and David Chang were just getting started when they rolled out news of a $300 million round for a startup company called Allogene and their deal to take over Pfizer’s R&D group and pipeline focused on developing the world’s first off-the-shelf CAR-Ts.
Another $120 million flowed in just a few days ago.
Along the way, the crew found time to write an S-1 with $100 million penciled in for the next raise, looking to take the funding past a half billion dollars in 6 months time.
They’ll need it. By the end of June, they had spent $137 million — $111 million of that registered as an accounting expense for the asset acquisition — while taking a sublet from Pfizer. In August, the S-1 says they landed a lease on a new headquarters space in South San Francisco, a booming biotech hub that has attracted scores of startups that want to be within a short drive of Genentech. And the plan is to go early in building a new manufacturing operation — which won’t be cheap.
They’re moving into the old Exelixis building at 210 East Grand.
Belldegrun and Chang have done it all before, but in nothing like the speed they’re traveling now. The pair built Kite from the ground up and sold it to Gilead for $12 billion, giving both a personal fortune — part of which Belldegrun has reinvested back into his new VC Vida Ventures, an investor in Allogene.
This time, they’re out to replace personalized CAR-T — which relies on cells extracted from patients, then weaponized and infused back in to fight cancer — with an industrialized approach that would allow for a one-size-fits-all technology.
The most advanced program they have in the clinic — UCART19 — is managed by their partner Servier. According to the latest data they have from early stage work on ALL:
As of April 2018, 13 out of 16 evaluable patients, or 81%, achieved a complete response (CR) and 12 of those patients, or 92%, achieved a minimum residual disease negative CR (MRD- CR). The most common adverse events were related to cytokine release syndrome (CRS) and were generally manageable. Two mild graft-versus-host disease (GvHD) cases in the skin were observed and resolved. We expect UCART19 to be advanced to potential registrational trials in the second half of 2019.
An IND is on its way next year for ALLO-501 in NHL and ALLO-715, targeting BCMA for the treatment of patients with drug resistant multiple myeloma.
Belldegrun has reserved 14% of the shares, while Chang has a 5% stake. The investors are topped by TPG Carthage Holdings at 25.1% and Pfizer, which got 24% for the program. They’re followed by Gilead, which has an 8.4% stake.
The company plans to trade as $ALLO.
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