APAC Issue 5 2018 - Leecare

26 APAC / Issue 5 2018 , Refuge Biotechnologies Appoints CSO to Advance the Development of Intelligent Cell Therapies in Oncology Immuno-oncology pioneer FrancescoMarincola, M.D., to join Refuge Biotech as Chief Scientific Officer and lead development of pipeline of intelligent cell therapies. Refuge Biotechnologies, Inc. (“Refuge”), a company leveraging gene engineering technologies to develop intelligent cell therapeutics programmed to make decisions inside of patients, today announced the closing of a $25 million Series B investment round. In addition, the company has appointed immuno-oncology pioneer Francesco Marincola, M.D., as chief scientific officer. The Series B financing was led by 3SBio and Sequoia China, with participation from new investors Danhua Capital (DHVC), Sangel Capital and Ocean Pine Healthcare Fund. Refuge’s existing investors, 3E Bioventures, WuXi Healthcare Ventures, and ShangBay Capital, also participated in the round. The funds from the Series B will support advancement of cell therapies developed with Refuge’s receptor-dCas platform, which utilises a mutated or dead Cas9 (dCas) as a targeting mechanism to enable precision CRISPR activation (CRISPRa) and CRISPR interference (CRISPRi). The cell therapies are programmed to only activate CRISPRa/CRISPRi when they encounter specific sensors found on the surface of cancer cells, which delivers the treatment effect only to target cells. As a result, cell therapies have the potential to bring together multiple anti-cancer approaches in a single cell, such as repression of multiple checkpoint targets, with greater potency and reduced side effects. Refuge’s pipeline is led by RB-1916, a CAR-T cell therapy designed to inhibit the expression of the PD-1 gene, with a potential initial application in diffused large B-cell lymphoma. Refuge has additional CAR cell therapy programs under research that conditionally repress PD-1 and other checkpoint inhibitors for potential treatment of solid tumours. “We have seen tremendous progress in the development of our technology and science, and believe that our receptor- dCas platform has the potential to create highly targeted cell therapies that bring superior efficacy while overcoming limitations related to toxic side effects,” said Bing C. Wang, Ph.D., co-founder and chief executive officer of Refuge Biotech. “This financing will propel our efforts with our growing pipeline as we continue to design these innovative and intelligent cell therapies to fight cancer, and we are encouraged by the support from this top group of global investors.” As part of the investment, the lead investors will have an exclusive right to negotiate with Refuge on the right to the development and commercialisation of cell therapies using Refuge’s platform in China. Concurrently, Refuge and 3SBio will also collaborate on research developing programmed cell therapeutics that can produce therapeutic proteins inside a patient’s body using Refuge’s platform technology. Concurrent with the financing, Zhenping Zhu, M.D., Ph.D., of 3SBio and Trency Gu, Ph.D., of Sequoia China, have joined the Refuge board of directors. “3SBio’s investment demonstrates our commitment to advancing cutting-edge gene engineering technologies with potential for breakthrough treatments for cancer and other diseases with unmet medical needs,” said Jing Lou, M.D., Ph.D., Chairman and CEO of 3SBio Inc. “3SBio looks forward to collaborating with