UCL spin-out Autolus secures £40 million new funding
4 March 2016
Autolus Limited, a biopharmaceutical spin-out from UCL Business, has raised £40 million of new capital.
Autolus, which is founded upon the work of Dr Martin Pule, focuses on the development and commercialisation of next-generation engineered T-cell therapies for haematological and solid tumours.
Woodford Investment Management and Perceptive Bioscience Investments participated in the new funding, which augments the previous £30 million investment from founding investor Syncona.
The funds will enable Autolus to develop its proprietary pipeline of engineered T-cell products, and to further implement its industry-leading platform of T-cell programming technologies. In parallel with the financing, the Company’s technology platform was enhanced by a licence to additional technologies from UCLB, UCL’s technology transfer company.
Dr Martin Pule is Clinical Senior Lecturer in the Dept. of Haematology at UCL Cancer Institute and Honorary Consultant in Haematology at University College London Hospital, and a thought-leader in T-cell engineering. Dr Pule's research is focused on many aspects of genetic engineering of T-cells for cancer treatment, with a particular focus on Chimeric Antigen Receptors (CARs).
T-cells are part of the body's immune system which normally kill infected cells. T-cells can be taken from a person’s blood sample, grown in the laboratory and “re-programmed” to recognise and kill cancer cells just as they would naturally attack an infection. T-cell therapy has the potential to be an extremely effective tool in the fight against cancer, with recent scientific reports claiming extraordinary success in targeting specific types of blood cancer. It may be early stages for the research, but the hope is that some t-cell therapy treatments will become mainstream in the next 5-10 years.
Dr Christian Itin, Chairman of Autolus, said: “We are pleased to welcome investors of the calibre of Woodford Investment Management and Perceptive Bioscience, which support our goal of building Autolus into a leading engineered T-cell company. The quality of Autolus’ technology and pipeline has allowed the company to raise £70m since its foundation in September 2014, and positions us to take multiple programmes into the clinic. We have also expanded the scope of our licence with UCLB to bring additional inventions from founder Dr Martin Pule’s group into the company adding to the suite of Autolus’ T-cell programming technologies.”