(Yicai Global) Feb. 26 -- Emerging cell therapy company Gracell Biotechnology has closed its series B funding from which it netted USD85 million.
The proceeds will push clinical trials of its next-generation cancer immunotherapy drugs, tech news portal 36Kr reported today.
Singapore sovereign investment fund Temasek led the round with institutional investors of the ilk of US-based pharma giant Eli Lilly And Company's Lilly Asia Ventures also getting in on the action.
The Shanghai-based company had raised CNY70 million (USD10.5 million) in its series A, spearheaded by 6 Dimensions Capital, an institutional investor in the medical and health fields.
Formed in 2017, Gracell Biotechnology is an innovative biomedical company whose major product is Chimeric Antigen Receptor T-Cell Immunotherapy, a cancer treatment that works by modifying a patient's own immune cells.
CAR-T costs much more than ordinary anti-cancer drugs, with the final market price far beyond the general public's reach, Gracell Biotechnology's founder Dr. Cao Wei explained, saying the production costs of such drugs have already run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars, quite aside from the outlay on years of scientific research and development.
Gracell Biotechnology aims to make high-quality, low-cost CAR-T medicines by developing new genetic technology and product road-maps. Two of its products are undergoing human clinical trials, with various others already under development.
The US Food and Drug Administration for the first time approved two commercial CAR-T treatments in 2017, which Switzerland's Novartis and the US Kite Pharma had separately developed.
Research and development of cellular immunotherapy products is flourishing in China, with over 100 companies claiming to R&D CAR-T products, per 36Kr's statistics.
Editor: Ben Armour