- Series B co-led by Jeito Capital, Ridgeback Capital Investments, SV Health Investors and Fidelity Management & Research Company LLC, alongside founding investor Syncona and includes a broad syndicate of international life science focused investors
- Proceeds to be used to fund clinical development of QEL-001 in liver transplantation, to accelerate development of its product pipeline across transplantation, neuroinflammatory and autoimmune diseases, and enhance its multi-modular engineered Treg platform and manufacturing footprint
London and Boston, MA /PRNewswire/ - Quell Therapeutics Ltd ("Quell"), the world leader in the development of engineered T-regulatory (Treg) cell therapies for serious medical conditions driven by the immune system, today announced it has raised $156 million in an oversubscribed Series B financing. The financing round was co-led by Jeito Capital, Ridgeback Capital Investments, SV Health Investors and Fidelity Management & Research Company LLC with participation from founding investor Syncona. New investors include British Patient Capital through its Future Fund: Breakthrough program, Janus Henderson Investors, Monashee Investment Management, Point72 and funds managed by Tekla Capital Management LLC.
Proceeds from the financing will be used to:
- Fund the LIBERATE Phase 1/2 clinical trial of QEL-001, a first-in-class antigen-specific multi-modular CAR-Treg cell therapy candidate designed to prevent organ rejection in liver transplant patients by inducing durable immune tolerance and eliminating the need for lifelong immunosuppression. QEL-001 is on-track to become the first multi-modular engineered CAR-Treg cell therapy in clinical development, with patient recruitment expected to begin before the end of the year.
- Advance Quell's pipeline in core therapeutic areas of transplantation, neuroinflammatory diseases and autoimmune diseases
- Accelerate the development of Quell's autologous multi-modular engineered Treg platform, and further develop an allogeneic CAR-Treg platform
"Quell is at the forefront of a new wave of cell therapy. We are leading the way with our highly-differentiated, multi-modular approach to Treg therapy engineering and production," said Iain McGill, Chief Executive Officer of Quell Therapeutics. "We are proud to have the support of this premiere syndicate of investors as we drive forward to our next stage of growth. With this financing, we have the full suite of capabilities – capital, cutting-edge science, and a world-class team – to advance our pipeline and platform to key milestones on our path ultimately to deliver potentially transformative therapies to patients suffering from diseases caused by immune dysregulation."
Quell is harnessing the full power of Tregs, known as the "master modulators" of immune homeostasis, to create novel cell therapies designed to suppress overactive immune responses, drive long-term tolerance in the local immune environment and promote tissue repair. Quell's versatile platform technology enables the Company to design, engineer and manufacture at scale, therapeutic Treg products with greater stability, persistence and potency than earlier generations. Key elements of this technology include its proprietary Phenotype-Lock technology, which enables Quell to "lock" Tregs in an immunosuppressive phenotype that enhances their safety, stability, and efficacy; chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) modules for tissue targeting; and additional modules to enhance disease-specific efficacy and safety.
In connection with the financing, Rachel Mears (Partner at Jeito Capital), Jeffrey Long-McGie (Managing Director at Ridgeback Capital) and Houman Ashrafian (Managing Partner at SV Health Investors) joined Quell's Board of Directors.
Martin Murphy, CEO of Syncona Investment Management Limited, said: "In 2019, Syncona co-founded Quell bringing together pioneering science from leading UK and European universities, with the ambition to develop first-in-class therapies in the ground-breaking Treg field offering the potential to make a real difference to the lives of patients. Since then, the progress made by the Quell team, led by Iain McGill, is remarkable. The business has moved from concept-to-clinic in under three years – we are excited to see its pioneering lead program enter the clinic this year.
"This financing underlines the progress the company has made to date and the scale of its ambition. Supported by a strong syndicate of global investors, the business will be able to progress its lead program and pipeline, whilst building scalable manufacturing capabilities, as it seeks to entrench its leadership position in an emerging field of innovative medicine."
Rafaèle Tordjman, Founder and CEO at Jeito, said: "Our investment in Quell is testament of our ambition to continue building a strong portfolio of companies with the potential of becoming market leaders. Following the recent closing of our first fund, Jeito I, at $630 million, we are pleased to have co-led this financing round alongside many prestigious investors in the US and the UK. With its high-quality science, expert leadership team, strong syndicate of investors and significant capital, Quell is ideally positioned to accelerate its therapies through clinical development for the benefit of millions of patients."
Dr. Wayne Holman, Founder & CEO of Ridgeback Capital, said: "The ability to modulate the T regulatory cell has the potential to advance medicine into a new age of possibility. We at Ridgeback are proud to help provide the resources to advance this crucial work. The technology this dedicated and talented team at Quell has developed may transform autoimmune diseases as well as facilitate organ transplant without the need for lifelong immunosuppression. This is an impossible dream that we believe the scientists and team at Quell can transform into a reality."
"As a leader in Treg cell therapies engineering for serious medical conditions, Quell is ultimately driving development of potentially transformative therapies to address diseases driven by the immune system with major unmet medical needs," said Houman Ashrafian, Managing Partner of SV Health Investors. "SV is excited to co-lead the company's latest funding round and we look forward to working closely with Quell's leadership team as they progress clinical development of QEL-001, build out its product pipeline and enhance its Treg platform."
About Quell Therapeutics
Quell Therapeutics is the world leader in developing engineered T-regulatory (Treg) cell therapies that aim to harness, direct and optimize their immune suppressive properties to address serious medical conditions driven by the immune system.
The Company is leveraging its pioneering phenotype lock technology, unique multi-modular platform and integrated manufacturing capabilities to design and develop a pipeline of highly engineered Treg cell therapies with greater potential for stability, persistence and potency than earlier generations of Treg cell therapy approaches.
Quell's lead candidate QEL-001 is being developed to induce operational tolerance following liver transplantation, with the potential to protect the post-transplant liver without the need for chronic immunosuppressive medications. Quell is also advancing additional programs in neuroinflammatory and autoimmune diseases. www.quell-tx.com.
About Jeito Capital
Jeito Capital is a global leading investment company with a patient benefit driven approach that finances and accelerates the development and growth of ground-breaking medical innovation. Jeito empowers and supports entrepreneurs through its expert, integrated, multi-talented team and through the investment of significant capital to ensure the growth of companies, building market leaders in their respective therapeutic areas with accelerated patients' access in Europe & the United States. Jeito Capital has €534 million under management. Jeito Capital is based in Paris with a presence in Europe and the United States. For more information, please visit www.jeito.life, or follow on Twitter @Jeito_life or LinkedIn.
About Ridgeback Capital Investments
Founded in 2006 by Wayne Holman, MD, Ridgeback Capital is a private investment company that is focused on investing in life science companies at all stages from formation through public market. Ridgeback Capital has a long track record of supporting innovation. The focus of the portfolio is to fund paradigm changing people, ideas, technologies, and companies that will have a broad reaching impact toward the betterment of society. For more information, please see www.ridgebackcap.com.
About SV Health Investors
SV Health Investors is a leading healthcare fund manager committed to investing in tomorrow's healthcare breakthroughs. The SV family of funds invests across stages, geographic regions, and sectors, with expertise spanning biotechnology, dementia, healthcare growth, healthcare technology and public equities. With approximately $2.7 billion in assets under management and a truly transatlantic presence with offices in Boston and London, SV has built an extensive network of talented investment professionals and experienced industry veterans. Since its founding in 1993, SV has invested in more than 200 companies with more than 90 of these having achieved successful acquisitions or IPOs.
For more information, please see www.svhealthinvestors.com
About Syncona Ltd
Syncona's purpose is to invest to extend and enhance human life. We do this by founding and building companies to deliver transformational treatments to patients in areas of high unmet need.
Our strategy is to found, build and fund companies around exceptional science to create a dynamic portfolio of 15-20 globally leading healthcare businesses for the benefit of all our stakeholders. We focus on developing treatments for patients by working in close partnership with world-class academic founders and management teams. Our balance sheet underpins our strategy enabling us to take a long-term view as we look to improve the lives of patients with no or few treatment options, build sustainable life science companies and deliver strong risk-adjusted returns to shareholders.
About Future Fund: Breakthrough
Future Fund: Breakthrough, managed by British Patient Capital, addresses the later stage equity finance gap faced by innovative, R&D-intensive UK companies with cutting edge technologies. These companies often require more capital and take longer to get to market than other companies.
Through the Future Fund: Breakthrough programme, British Patient Capital makes equity co-investments with private sector investors in later stage R&D-intensive UK companies operating in breakthrough technology sectors. Companies must, inter alia, be raising a minimum total investment round size of £30m, and the maximum Future Fund: Breakthrough will contribute to an investment round is 30%. Future Fund: Breakthrough invests on the same terms as private sector investors.