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Gene-Editing Start-Up Poseida Lands $30.5M to Advance CAR T


The precision medicine innovator plans to use the money to finance the second generation of the immunotherapies.

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It’s a good day for Poseida Therapeutics, one of the trailblazing precision medicine ventures that aims to transform cancer treatment through cutting-edge gene-editing technologies. But just how good of a day is it? Try $30.5 million good.

That’s how much Poseida raised in its oversubscribed Series B financing round, according to an announcement from the company. Founded in 2015, the San Diego, California-based outfit plans to use the money to push forward its efforts surrounding chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell therapies, a type of treatment that is widely considered to be among the most personalized forms of medicine to date.

“We have shown across multiple programs, in preclinical and in clinical studies, an ability to use our proprietary gene-engineering technologies to develop advanced CAR-T therapies with more favorable cell phenotype profiles and other highly desirable features that overcome limitations of first-generation CAR T therapies,” Poseida’s CEO, Eric Ostertag, MD, PhD, said in a statement.

>> Read: Fighting Cancer with CAR T and Big Data

The first CAR T therapies gained FDA approval last year. Kymriah, a fruit of Novartis’s efforts, first got the green light in August, followed by Kite Pharma’s Yescarta.

CAR T, of course, involves the editing of a patient’s genes, typically outside the body, so that they begin to destroy malignant cells.

Poseida intends to use its new influx of cash to “further advance a pipeline of autologous and allogeneic CAR T immunotherapies, as well as gene therapies,” leaning on its line of gene-editing tools, according to the company.

Poseida’s P-BCMA-101, a CAR T therapy in phase 1 clinical development, is slated to treat relapsed/refractory multiple myeloma. Data on that project will be unveiled at a conference this month. A second, “universal donor” CAR T therapy, meanwhile, would also treat patients with multiple myeloma. Finally, Poseida is developing a CAR T therapy for prostate cancer: P-PSMA-101, which remains in preclinical development.

Ostertag noted that his organization is “also moving additional promising pipeline candidates forward, enable by our best-in-class gene-engineering technologies.”

The new injection of venture capital comes primarily from Longitude Capital, whose managing director, David Hirsch, MD, PhD, earned a seat on Poseida’s board of directors. Malin Corporation, an existing investor, also contributed to this round, along with newcomers Vivo Capital and the Tavistock Group, according to the announcement.

Poseida capped its $23 million Series A funding round in 2015. Last August, it earned $11.2 million in a venture round, before securing a $19.8 million grant that fall from the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, according to the start-up tracker Crunchbase.

Today’s windfall brings Poseida’s total funding past the $80 million mark.

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