Tech Transfer eNews Blog

U of Minnesota start-up raises $42M to advance cancer-killing cell therapy


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: December 1st, 2020

A University of Minnesota (U of M) start-up has raised $42M in venture capital to advance a cell therapy technology that could lead to exciting new treatments for cancer.

Catamaran Bio has developed a highly differentiated approach to developing cell therapies using chimeric antigen receptor (CAR)-NK cells.

“We engineer the cells by changing their genetic code to kill the cancer cells,” says Branden Moriarity, assistant professor at U of M and scientific co-founder of Catamaran. “It’s a new way to treat cancer. Others are doing this of course. But we at the U of M … have demonstrated a unique ability to engineer these cells and related technology.”

The collective $42 million investment was led by VC firms Sofinnova Partners and Lightstone Ventures, with participation by founding firm SV Health Investors as well as Takeda Ventures and Astellas Venture Management. It is the highest amount of funding raised by any start-up based on U of M research.

Housman Ashrafian, co-founder of Catamaran and managing partner at SV Health Investors, comments, “The success of autologous CAR T-cell therapies in hematological malignancies has opened the door to the breakthrough potential of cell therapies for cancer. Catamaran is well positioned to improve upon this groundwork by developing off-the-shelf cell therapies [for] solid tumors.”

Source: Star Tribune

Posted under: Tech Transfer e-News

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