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Follow the Money: Blackstone Launches Portfolio Company, PCORI Approves Funds for CER Studies, Funds Gifted for Alzheimer’s Research, More

May 28, 2024 | Blackstone launches the Blackstone Life Sciences portfolio company Uniquity Bio, a clinical-stage drug development company focused on immunology and inflammation; the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute secures approval of funding awards to support new patient-centered comparative clinical effectiveness research studies; Laurence Belfer gifts funds to the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center to strengthen neurodegeneration research through the Belfer Neurodegeneration Consortium, a transformative multi-institutional initiative to advance the study and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease; more. 

 

$300M: Launch Funds for Immunology, Inflammation 

Blackstone has launched the Blackstone Life Sciences portfolio company Uniquity Bio, a clinical-stage drug development company focused on immunology and inflammation. Uniquity Bio is emerging from stealth with an FDA acceptance of its Phase 2 investigational new drug application for solrikitug, a monoclonal antibody targeting TSLP, and up to $300 million in capital from Blackstone to advance the asset in multiple indications.

$150M: Funding for New Patient-Centered CER Studies 

The Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) announced the approval of funding awards totaling more than $150 million to support new patient-centered comparative clinical effectiveness research (CER) studies, research to strengthen the rigor and quality of patient-centered CER, and a project to implement the findings of PCORI-funded research into practice. Among the nine awards for patient-centered CER, two include support for large, two-phased trials comparing approaches to treatments for heart failure and asthma. Two other large studies will compare health system strategies to improve hypertension control, and another will evaluate the effectiveness of medications used for migraine prevention. This latest round of PCORI funding awards also includes CER studies exploring questions about the value of screening for financial hardship to improve patient-centered outcomes for individuals with advanced cancer, training to increase shared decision making to improve patient experiences during labor, screening approaches for post-traumatic stress disorder in obstetrics clinics, and strategies to care for patients experiencing intimate partner violence.

$100M: Series C for Expanding Diagnostic Beyond Hospitals 

Karius has secured $100 million in Series C funding. The round was co-led by Khosla Ventures and new investors 5AM Ventures and Gilde Healthcare. Also investing was new investor Seventure Partners and existing investors Softbank Vision Fund 2, General Catalyst, HBM Healthcare Investments, Blue Water Life Sciences, Innovation Endeavors, Waycross Ventures, and others. This investment will enable Karius to extend its reach beyond the 400 U.S. hospitals currently using the Karius Test, an infectious disease diagnostic test that utilizes genomic analysis and artificial intelligence to detect over 1,000 pathogens from a single blood sample. The funding enables Karius to address increasing demand from healthcare providers to expand access to the Karius Test beyond the hospital setting. Additionally, it will support research into the broader health implications of Karius’ microbial cell-free DNA technology beyond infectious diseases.

$60M: Funds for Company Expansion and Strategic Partnerships 

Metabolon has closed on a new $60 million credit facility to expand the company’s metabolomics solutions for life science research, diagnostic, therapeutic development, and precision medicine applications. The company will use the investment to fuel the company’s growth initiatives and expand its research and development efforts to further enhance its metabolomics platform. The investment will also support the company’s global expansion plans, including market penetration initiatives and strategic partnerships. The financing was led by Trinity Capital, Inc. and enabled early retirement of the company’s previous $35 million debt facility. It follows a $25 million equity financing that closed in January of 2023.

$44M: Series B for ML-Driven Discovery Platform, Multispecific Antibodies 

LabGenius, a drug discovery company pioneering the use of machine learning for the discovery of novel therapeutic antibodies, has closed a £35 million (approx. $44 million) Series B financing round. The investment brings LabGenius’ total funding to date to £58 million. The round was led by new investor M Ventures (the strategic, corporate venture capital arm of science and technology company Merck), with participation from additional new investors Octopus Ventures and LG Corp, together with existing investors including Atomico, Kindred Capital, Lux Capital and Obvious Ventures. LabGenius will use the capital raised to expand the scope of its ML-driven discovery platform and progress a wholly-owned pipeline of multispecific antibodies toward the clinic. Building on the success of a recent research collaboration with Sanofi, the extended platform capability will facilitate broader strategic partnerships across multiple therapeutic modalities. 

$40M: Series A for Women’s Unmet Medical Needs 

PinkDx launched with $40 million in Series A financing. The company will use the funds to pursue its vision of identifying unmet medical needs that are unique to women, addressing them with scientific rigor, and providing answers that have an immediate, positive impact on their lives. The company will use a broad and deep scientific approach to test development, focusing initially on gynecological cancers. The financing was co-led by Catalio Capital Management, LP and The Production Board. Other investors include Mountain Group Partners, Byers Capital, and Mayo Clinic. 

$21M: Series B for Commercial Expansion of Oncology Products 

CN Bio has raised a $21 million investment in the first close of its Series B fundraising round. The funding has been secured from several new investors, including $10 million from Bayland Capital and $5.5 million from founding shareholder, CN Innovations Holdings Ltd. The investment will be used to accelerate the CN Bio’s expanding product portfolio and to scale the business to support commercial expansion across key global markets. With the latest fundraising, CN Bio is well-positioned to continue its global expansion to meet the evolving needs of customers worldwide in key markets including toxicology, drug pharmacology, and metabolic diseases.

$20M: Gift for Alzheimer’s Disease Research 

Laurence Belfer announced a $20 million gift to the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center to strengthen neurodegeneration research through the Belfer Neurodegeneration Consortium, a transformative multi-institutional initiative to advance the study and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. This commitment brings the Belfer family’s total giving to MD Anderson to $53.5 million in just over 10 years. Their generous gift will be matched through institutional philanthropic efforts, bringing an additional $20 million to neurodegeneration and other age-associated disease research efforts at MD Anderson.

$17M: Series B for Accelerating One-Stop Patient Access Platform 

SamaCare has closed an oversubscribed $17 million Series B investment round led by new investor Questa Capital. Questa is joined in the round by existing investors Vive Collective and South Park Commons. With this new round, SamaCare will accelerate product development of its one-stop patient access platform that saves healthcare organizations time and resources while ensuring patients receive therapy sooner.

$16M: Seed Funding for Enhancing Equipment for Tumor Antigen Discovery 

Infinitopes Precision Immunomics announced the completion of a $16 million (£12.8 million) seed funding round led by Octopus Ventures. The round was heavily oversubscribed, also drawing in funds from Cancer Research Horizons, Cancer Research Institute, CRIS Cancer Foundation, Kindred Capital, Manta Ray, Martlet Capital, Meltwind Advisory, Saras Capital, Wilbe Capital, and expert angel investors. The total funds raised combine new equity investment and a prestigious non-dilutive award from Innovate UK’s Future Economy Investor Partnership scheme. The new investment accelerates the installation of best-in-class, next-generation LC-MS/MS mass spectrometer equipment, enhancing the company’s proprietary tumor antigen discovery and computational immunobiology/AI/machine learning techniques, to identify and rank the best target combinations, to treat five more cancers.

$8M: Financing for CAD Pathobiology Trial and Biomarker Discovery Tool 

PlaqueTec has secured $8 million equity financing, led by Lord Moynihan of Chelsea alongside the Future Fund, with support from existing investors. The funding will be used to support PlaqueTec’s ongoing BIOPATTERN trial, designed to improve understanding of coronary artery disease (CAD) pathobiology and how it varies between individuals, and to build BIOCARTA, its novel biomarker discovery tool.

$1.63M: Pre-Seed Funding for Diagnostic Kit for Lyme Disease 

En Carta Diagnostics, a deeptech start-up developing rapid Point-of-Care (POC) molecular diagnostics kits has announced $1.63 million (approx. €1.5 million) in pre-seed funding. This investment will enable En Carta to make a substantial leap forward in achieving preclinical data on a prototype diagnostic kit for its flagship indication, the debilitating Lyme disease, while ensuring its ability to scale industrially.  CentraleSupélec Venture led the round with participation from a handful of high-profile business angels. Additional funding may be forthcoming to finance other diagnostic platform derivatives.