Former Celgene Executive’s Biotech Start-Up Celularity Raises $250 MillionBy
Celularity, a Warren, New Jersey-headquartered biopharmaceutical company developing therapies from allogeneic cells and tissues derived from the postpartum placenta, has raised $250 million in funding from several investors, including Celgene, United Therapeutics, a Silver Spring, Maryland-headquartered biopharmaceutical company, Sorrento Therapeutics, a San Diego, California-headquartered clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company, and Human Longevity Inc., a San Diego-based genomic-based, health intelligence company co-founded by J. Craig Venter, PhD, a scientist noted for his contributions to sequencing the human genome.
Celularity was formed in August 2017 by co-founder, Robert Hariri, MD, PhD, now serving as the company’s chairman and chief executive officer, and formerly chairman, CEO and chief scientific officer of Celgene Cellular Therapeutics, a Celgene subsidiary focused on investigational placenta-derived and other stem-cell therapies. Dr. Hariri is also founder of Anthrogenesis Corporation, which Celgene acquired in 2003 and is co-founder and president of Human Longevity Cellular Therapeutics. Celularity’s other co-founder is Peter H. Diamandis, who now serves as the company’s vice chairman. He is founder and executive chairman of the XPRIZE Foundation, which designs and operates large-scale incentive competitions, and co-founder and executive chairman of Singularity University, a graduate-level Silicon Valley institution that advises on growing technologies.
In 2016, Human Longevity Inc. acquired LifebankUSA, a biobanking business founded by Dr. Hariri and the biomaterials program from Celgene. LifebankUSA was one of three core units of Celgene Cellular Therapeutics, which became part of Celgene in 2003 following its acquisition of Anthrogenesis.
Celularity says it acts as a “biorefinery” to use the placenta to create therapies across immuno-oncology, autoimmune, and degenerative diseases as well as for functional regeneration. It sources, develops, and deploys therapies derived from the placenta for treating complex medical conditions, including hematological and solid tumors, autoimmune disease, diabetes as well as degenerative effects of aging.
“Celularity is a new biotechnology company model founded to harness the placenta as a platform for discovery and therapeutics, ultimately with a goal of amplifying the body’s ability to fight disease, restore function and extend the healthy lifespan,” said Dr. Hariri, in a February 15, 2018 company statement. “It is my vision that the cellular medicines we derive from the placenta will lead to abundant and affordable treatments.”
Celularity says it has assembled an intellectual property portfolio of more than 800 issued patents, which attain a position around placental-derived stem and progenitor cells to deploy what it calls “the full value chain” ranging from sourcing placental stem cells to delivering patient treatments.” The company is focused on three main areas: cell therapy, functional regeneration, and biosourcing. Regarding cell therapy, Celularity has developed five clinical-stage cell therapy candidates currently being evaluated for cancer, immunological, and degenerative diseases. In reference to functional regeneration, Celularity says it is addressing wounds, burns, orthopedic, and other surgical indications, including reconstructive and aesthetic applications with a range of placental biomaterials. As for the company’s work with biosourcing, Celularity owns and operates LifeBankUSA, a repository that allows families to bank their newborn’s placental cells and biomaterials for future therapeutic and regenerative use.
Celularity says placental stem cells are “immunoprivileged,” therefore treatments do not require cells to be engineered or matched for each individual patient and that these placental stem cells allow for scalability for Celularity’s chimeric antigen receptor T cell (CAR-T) and CAR-natural killer platforms.
In addition to funding from Celgene, United Therapeutics, Sorrento Therapeutics, and Human Longevity, Inc., the company also has received funding from several other investment firms: Genting Group, the Dreyfus Family Office, Section 32, and the Heritage Group.