GMP-in-a-box company with Bob Nelsen backing lands $167M to develop its own cancer drugs
For the fourth time in as many weeks, a company focused on portable drug manufacturing is making noise.
This time, Nutcracker Therapeutics has brought in $167 million in a Series C round led by ARCH Venture Partners. The company will use the financing to help advance its pipelines of mRNA medicines for oncology, in addition to refining the manufacturing technology that spurred the biotech’s launch. Nutcracker will also grow its team, particularly on the medical side of things, as it has recently rounded out its executive team.
Chief business officer Geoff Nosrati said in a call with Endpoints News that what makes Nutcracker’s platform unique from others who occupy a similar space is that it deals with more than just manufacturing. Nutcracker says it develops new drugs in-house, and it has developed its own delivery system, which it calls Nutshells, to get the RNA to its target.
Nutcracker’s manufacturing platform combines RNA biochemistry with micro fluidic engineering, semiconductor-line biochips and nanoparticle delivery tech. In a single manufacturing unit, its device can carry out DNA template expansion, produce drug substance, and formulate the drug product. The team hopes to speed up the manufacturing process, and make scaling easier. Nutcracker switches between drugs by swapping out a nanochip.
What hasn’t been broadcast yet is the company’s push toward its own cancer drugs using mRNA. That is something Nutcracker hopes to change soon, Nosrati said.
“We’re really developing aggressively our wholly-owned pipeline of oncology therapeutics, and looking to expand that even further, both on our own and through partnerships with biotechs,” he said. “It’s a pretty substantial change in our messaging, and we’ve been pretty quiet so far.”
The company, which is based in California’s Bay Area, was founded in 2019, before Covid-19 made mRNA a household name. CEO Igor Khandros brought Madhu Balachandran out of retirement to become the COO, and the efforts sparked the interest of Bob Nelsen, who led the way for the company’s $60 million in fundraising back in 2020.
Nutcracker’s joining a slew of companies looking to shake up the industry’s approach to building complex biologic therapies.
A month ago, BioNTech held a press conference addressing its affordable manufacturing facilities, dubbed the BioNTainer, that it will deliver to Senegal and Rwanda as a part of its efforts to improve the lack of manufacturing on the continent. Its primary focus will be on Covid-19, but the company has said it plans to pivot to malaria drugs when the time is right.
Then CureVac came out and announced that it was spinning out a fully-owned company specifically for its mRNA printer, a portable manufacturing device that, ideally, could be dropped off at hospitals around the world. A week later, Mytide Therapeutics announced a $7 million Series A to develop a similar piece of technology that specializes in peptide manufacturing. That company has landed investment from Alloy Therapeutics.
Nutcracker has also added Michael Bigham, the former CEO of Paratek Pharmaceuticals, to its board of directors. He will bring more than 30 years of leadership to the team.
“RNA has unique qualities as a therapeutic modality and could prove to be a first-line tool for many diseases,” he said in a statement. “Nutcracker Therapeutics is well-positioned to develop RNA therapeutics in a scalable and efficient manner with its innovative platform.”