Firm is developing small molecule and biologic stem cell modulators and has one candidate in a Phase I trial.
Fate Therapeutics has completed a $30 million Series B financing, which will allow it to expand its stem cell discovery engine. This platform uses advanced reprogramming technologies for generating cell types of interest to elucidate disease biology and identify drug targets. The aim is to develop small molecule or biologic stem cell modulatorsin areas such as regenerative medicine, hematological diseases, metastatic cancer, traumatic injury, and degenerative diseases.
Fate Therapeutics says that its technology offers a highly efficient, nonviral, non-DNA based method to recapitulate human physiology for commercial-scale drug discovery and therapeutic use. In addition, Fate Therapeutics and Stemgent have formed an alliance called Catalyst to provide its members with first access to the most advanced induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC) technologies for drug discovery and development.
“Target populations of adult stem cells must be exquisitely characterized and quantitated, and we are employing genomic, proteomic, and epigenetic expression technologies to identify cell-specific biological mechanisms to modulate cell fate for diseases that currently have limited to no treatment options,” points out Paul Grayson, president and CEO of the company.
The company has exclusively licensed intellectual property related to iPSC from The Scripps Research Institute and the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research. The rights include a technique published by Sheng Ding, Ph.D., assistant professor in the chemistry department of Scripps, in October that uses three small molecules to generate iPSCs in a manner that is 200 times more efficient than and twice as fast as conventional methods for reprogramming adult human cells.
Fate Therapeutics has one stem cell modulator in clinical development. FT1050, which enhances hematopoietic stem cell (HSC) proliferation and homing, is currently in a Phase Ib study at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute and Massachusetts General Hospital. It is being assessed in adult patients with hematologic malignancies such as leukemia and lymphoma who have undergone nonmyeloablative conditioning therapy and are in need of HSC support. The trial will determine the safety and tolerability of introducing FT1050 during the standard course of dual umbilical cord blood transplant and will also track HSC engraftment efficiencies and patient outcomes.
“Fate Therapeutics has made rapid progress in advancing its pipeline of stem cell modulators and in establishing the leading industrialized platform for induced pluripotent stem cell technology,” notes Carl Weissman, managing director of OVP Venture Partners, which led the financing round. Weissman has also joined the company’s board of directors.
“We are confident that the company’s management team and its scientists will continue to identify novel mechanisms to selectively intervene in adult stem cell biology for medicine,” adds Weissman. “We believe its expert knowledge, innovative approach, and advanced technologies in modulating cell fate can be leveraged across a broad therapeutic spectrum of drug discovery and development opportunities.”
Astellas Venture Management, Genzyme Ventures, and a third undisclosed corporate investor joined OVP in this round. The three co-leaders of the firm’s Series A financing, ARCH Venture Partners, Polaris Venture Partners, and Venrock, also participated in the latest round.
“The company is well-positioned to aggressively advance its leading iPSC technology platform for use in its own internal discovery programs as well as with strategic partners,” remarks Scott Wolchko, CFO of Fate Therapeutics. “With this Series B financing, we have raised the necessary funds to build on the pioneering research and foundational intellectual property of our scientific founders for human cell reprogramming and to enable the commercialization of our pharmaceutical-grade iPSC technology.”