The London-based T cell engineers at Autolus are steering the company to a $100 million-plus IPO, hoping to bank on a so far insatiable appetite for a new generation of cell therapies built to outstrip the pioneers in the market.
Helmed by Micromet vet Christian Itin, Autolus has been touting its early-stage approach to CD19 binding with a quick disengagement strategy that they believe will greatly reduce the risk of cytokine storms that frequently afflict patients — a toxicity that has limited their initial use.
Beyond that, though, they also have built in multiple binding technology for BCMA and TACI, to amp up effectiveness in multiple myeloma. And there’s a CD22 binder that can latch onto 5 different domains. Like many in the field, Autolus sees a big future for itself in both blood cancers and solid tumors, which have eluded the first gen drugs.
Autolus was spun out of the lab of Martin Pule at University College London. Years ago Pule — now CSO at Autolus — got a chance to help with some of the pioneering research going into reengineering T cells into cancer therapies at Malcolm Brenner’s lab at Baylor College of Medicine.
In the F-1 they filed, Autolus explains that it is looking to build its own manufacturing operations and has some new tech in mind for its next round of safety switches to use to defuse their cell therapies if they pose a threat to their patient.
The next generation of our safety switches, which we plan to incorporate in our solid tumor programs, utilizes rapamycin activated Caspase 9 (rapaCasp9), a cell therapy safety switch that allows for selective elimination of programmed T cells using a single therapeutic dose of the commercially available product rapamycin, such as sirolimus or Rapamun
Autolus had $129 million in cash on hand at the end of 2017.
Syncona is the big shareholder in the mix at Autolus, with 40% of the equity. Neil Woodford’s groups are behind that, with 27% while Arix has 9% and Itin himself owns 3.6%.
I selected Autolus as one of our E11 biotechs earlier this year.
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