Jaguar, Sean Nolan's latest biotech, raises $139M as they follow Taysha's footsteps
Joe Nolan swears he isn’t trying to hurtle Jaguar Gene Therapy toward a 0-to-60 IPO, but it sure looks like it.
Less than two months after launching with Deerfield cash and ex-AveXis leadership, Jaguar announced Tuesday they raised a $139 million Series B led by Eli Lilly and Deerfield. That rapid acceleration is reminiscent of the last biotech launched by the old AveXis team, when Sean Nolan and RA Sessions steered Taysha through back-to-back Series A and B rounds before landing a $157 million IPO last September, 5 months after launch.
Joe Nolan, who launched Jaguar with Sean Nolan (no relation) and serves as CEO, said that wasn’t the intent, however.
“We weren’t planning to go out and raise a Series B as quickly as it happened,” he told Endpoints News, adding, “We haven’t really talked much about IPO at all. Again, we’re keeping all options open.”
Nolan, who had served as a general manager at AveXis, said the Series B started after Lilly learned of the company through a relationship with Deerfield. They were intrigued, he said, by the experienced team — in addition to the Nolans, Jaguar’s R&D chief, COO, CFO and CLO are all ex-AveXis — and the potential to target diseases that had larger patient populations.
Jaguar is chasing four different gene therapies: for type 1 diabetes, a subset of autism, a group of inherited disorders called galactosemia and, through their subsidiary Axovia, a rare disease called Bardet-Biedl syndrome.
A diabetes treatment would have the largest market of virtually any gene therapy now in development, though Nolan has been circumspect about how any of the three main therapies work, declining to name even what genes they’re looking to deliver.
The first therapies are likely to enter the clinic in the first half of 2023, Nolan said. He declined to disclose how much runway the new round gives them, but Jaguar is planning a significant expansion, pushing from 30 employees between their offices in Illinois and North Carolina at the start of 2021 to around 90 employees by the end of it.
The company is also continually looking to expand its pipeline with programs from the various universities Deerfield has partnered with over the last two years. One of the therapies in their portfolio already came through that route. They’ve explored 8 additional academic assets so far, he said, though they have yet to license one.