Rubius Therapeutics said today it has raised $100 million in new financing to further support clinical development and manufacturing of its new red blood cell–derived therapies.
The oversubscribed $100 million “crossover” financing brings to more than $220 million the amount of capital raised by the company. In June, Rubius closed on $120 million in a private financing round it said at the time was “highly oversubscribed.”
Rubius said proceeds from the financing will be used to accelerate development of its portfolio of Red-Cell Therapeutics™ (RCTs) toward clinical proof-of-concept, as well as to enhance its manufacturing capacity and capabilities.
“The addition of this funding further strengthens our foundation and enables us to accelerate the development of our first wave of RCT products that are targeting treatment of enzyme deficiencies, cancer, and autoimmune disease,” Rubius president Torben Straight Nissen, Ph.D., said in a statement.
RCT technology is designed to modify red blood cells generated from O-negative donors, the “universal donor” blood type, to make thousands, sometimes millions, of copies of a specific protein, such as an enzyme or an antibody. Rubius says that approach could be used to target a variety of diseases.
Red blood cells deliver oxygen throughout the body and thus can reach a variety of tissues. The cells, which lack a nucleus, are typically not recognized by the immune system and have a natural lifetime of three months—properties that according to Rubius bode well for their use as safe and lasting therapies.
Discovering the “Holy Grail”
Rubius was founded in 2014 by Flagship Pioneering, a firm that creates, funds, and supports life science companies, and was launched the following year with $25 million by Flagship Pioneering’s VentureLabs® innovation foundry.
In addition to Dr. Nissen, that team includes executive chairman David Epstein, former CEO of Novartis Pharmaceuticals who left the pharma giant in 2016, joined Flagship Pioneering as executive partner in January 2017, and expanded his role at Rubius in August. He was drawn to Rubius, he told GEN last year, by the ability of RCT technology to be prepared in bulk without the hassle of customizing therapies for each patient—what Epstein calls the “Holy Grail” of cell therapy.
“We are pleased with the quality of the investor group participating in this financing, and would like to thank our new and existing investors,” Epstein stated today.
Rubius’ statement did not disclose its participating investors in the latest round. Flagship Pioneering was joined in the June 2017 round by “undisclosed large institutional investors,” the company said at the time.
Rubius is the third drug developer to announce a nine-figure financing this week. Yesterday AstraZeneca spun off six pipeline candidates under development by its MedImmune subsidiary into Viela Bio, a developer of treatments for severe autoimmune diseases funded with $250 million. And on Tuesday, Generation Bio, a developer of redosable gene therapies, closed on a $100 million Series B financing.