Silicon Valley celebs chip into $250M round for age-fighting startup Celularity. Placenta-based CAR-Ts on the horizon?
A star-studded Celgene spinout is stepping out today with $250 million in fresh cash to develop its quickly maturing stem cell platform to treat cancer, autoimmune disorders, and ultimately to delay the aging process.
The company, called Celularity, is a New Jersey-based startup co-founded by X-Prize founder Peter Diamandis and ex-Celgene executive Bob Hariri. You might also know these guys as the co-founders of Human Longevity, another age-fighting startup that scored a similarly huge round of startup cash back in 2016.
Celularity is chock full of big names in both biotech and tech, with a board that includes former Apple CEO John Sculley, GV (formerly Google Ventures) founder and Section 32 creator Bill Maris, and ex-FDA commissioner Andrew Von Eschenbach.
Although brand new, the company is not completely green. The company’s tech has been built up at Celgene over the past decade. The pharma giant went through a series of acquisitions years ago when placental cells were being hyped as a socially acceptable alternative to embryonic stem cells. All these years later, that tech was spun out into Celularity, a company that launched last summer with 200 issued and pending patents, preclinical and clinical assets, and commercial products acquired from Celgene, Sorrento, United Therapeutics, and Human Longevity.
“Celularity was formed as a new biotechnology model designed to apply the necessary expertise to harness our placenta discovery platform across a range of unmet medical needs,” Hariri said in a statement at the time.
One application for the company’s business has biotech particularly intrigued. The company says it plans to build CAR-T therapies using placental cells, not a patient’s own T-cells, which, in theory, will create standardized product that won’t cause the patient’s immune system to flare in protest. Celularity will ask the FDA to start trials on a CAR-T targeting a protein called CD38, and says it’s licensed 50 other potential CAR-T constructs from Sorrento.
The company is also working on treatments for wound healing and rheumatoid arthritis, as well as cell therapy candidates.
“The objective is to make 100 years of age an extremely achievable goal for people, but to allow their biologic functionality to work like it did when they were decades younger,” Hariri told CNET.