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Penn start-up lands $38M Series A funding to commercialize novel T cell therapy


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: November 14th, 2018

A start-up from the University of Pennsylvania has secured $38 million in equity financing to help commercialize a new T cell therapy.

Cabaletta Bio has developed engineered T cell therapy products for B cell-mediated autoimmune diseases. The technology uses chimeric autoantibody receptors (CAARs) to bind and eliminate only disease-causing B cells while sparing the healthy B cells.

The company has licensed the technology from Penn and entered into two multiyear sponsored research agreements with the university to support further research and development of the treatment.

Investment firm 5M Ventures led Calabetta’s Series A round, with participation from the start-up’s founding investors Adage Capital Management and Penn. Calabetta will use the funds to advance the treatment into clinical development.

“The work that we at Penn, and investigators at other organizations, have completed has clinically proven the value of CAR T therapies to treat other serious malignant diseases,” says Penn researcher and Calabetta co-founder Michael Milone. “Through continued work at our institution, we have shown that this core platform can be slightly modified and directed toward B cell-mediated autoimmune diseases,” he adds. “Cabaletta was founded with the objective of expediting this important work and finding new and better solutions for patients who suffer from these debilitating diseases.”

Aimee Payne, a Penn researcher who also co-founded Cabaletta, comments, “Current treatments, primarily immunosuppressants, are reasonably effective but can have very serious side effects. The highly targeted nature of CAAR T cells suggests that pathogenic B cells could be eliminated without impacting normal B cell function, a potentially ideal combination of efficacy and safety. We look forward to moving this program into the clinic in the near-term.”

Source: Philadelphia Business Journal

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