Skip to NavigationSkip to content

Silicon Valley-backed Celgene spin-off launches with $250m

Published on 16/02/18 at 09:44am

Biotechs are known for getting off the ground early with serious levels of financing, often based more on the acumen of the people involved rather than any candidates in the pipeline.

Celgene spin-off, Celularity, would argue that it has both but, it has to be said, the brains behind the business are particularly impressive and that could be why it managed to raise $250 million in an extended Series A financing round.

The founder and CEO of the company is Bob Hariri, who worked as CEO of Celgene Cellular Therapeutics, before the decision was made to take the technology to the next stage by spinning out as a biotech.

He is joined by co-founder, Peter Diamandis, who is the founder of XPRIZE and co-founder, alongside Hariri, of Human Longevity Inc. In addition, John Sculley, former CEO of Apple, Bill Maris, founder of Section 32, and Andrew von Eschenbach, former FDA commissioner, all sit on the board.

It’s an impressive support system and it’s fitting that the biotech’s aims are just as lofty – it plans to use placenta cells to “augment our longevity”.

Its website reads: “Celularity seeks to make 100 years old the new 60, and to provide people with maximal aesthetics, mobility, and cognition as they age. We believe the 20 years of science, research, and intellectual property Celularity is built on is the cornerstone for the coming longevity revolution.”

It’s a bold ambition but the fascination with boosting lifespan, particularly in regards to cognition, has taken hold of Silicon Valley in recent years and it’s therefore no surprise that the company has received such financial backing.

In terms of practical steps before managing this ambitious target, the biotech plans to create the first off-the-shelf CAR-T treatment. CAR-T has become a form of treatment that has the industry excited, leading to big buyouts of the companies that specialised in them – Juno Therapeutics recently sold to Celgene for $9 billion and Gilead spent close to $12 billion to acquire Kite’s market-ready product.

Celularity’s treatment will differ because the T-cells will be made from placenta cells, meaning that the treatments could be used by everyone rather than having to go through the cost-heavy, personalised manufacturing process currently used by Novartis and Gilead.

For those sceptical stem cells really will find much use medically, Celularity can point to the fact that the biotech already has a treatment for wound healing approved by the FDA – with the biotech expecting it to bring in $20 million from the product this year alone.

The longer-term aim for the company though is to use stem cells harvested from placentas to more broadly treat ageing – under the thinking that many illnesses are simply symptoms of ageing, such as cancer or Alzheimer’s disease.

Ben Hargreaves

Mission Statement
Pharmafile.com is a leading portal for the pharmaceutical industry, providing industry professionals with pharma news, pharma events, pharma service company listings and pharma jobs,
Site content is produced by our editorial team exclusively for Pharmafile.com and our industry newspaper Pharmafocus. Service company profiles and listings are taken from our pharmaceutical industry directory, Pharmafile, and presented in a unique Find and Compare format to ensure the most relevant matches