Cell Therapy
Finance & Investment

Autolus Therapeutics to Receive an Investment of Up to $250 million to Develop Obe-Cel CD19 CAR-T Therapeutic Candidate

Georgi Makin
8 November 2021
The investment, form Blackstone Life Sciences, constitutes one of the largest private financings of a UK biotech company, and is reportedly the largest from a single source.

Earlier this week, Blackstone Life Sciences and Autolus Therapeutics announced the companies have entered into a strategic collaboration and financing agreement.

Under this agreement, Blackstone will provide up to $250 million in equity and product financing to support the development and early commercialisation preparation of Autolus’ CD19 CAR-T cell investigational product candidate, obecabtagene autoleucel (obe-cel), in adults with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL).

The investment will reportedly further support next generation product therapies of obe-cel in B-cell malignancies.

“We welcome Blackstone Life Sciences to join our drive to change the outlook for leukaemia and lymphoma patients, notably those with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia. Blackstone’s investment and expertise will support the development and preparation for commercialisation of obe-cel and put the program and the Company on a strong financial footing as we are approaching the read-out from the potentially pivotal FELIX clinical trial during the course of 2022,” explained Dr Christian Itin, CEO of Autolus.

Of the ~$250 million invested, $150 million has been committed to product financing, development and commercialisation efforts for obe-cel, comprising an agreed $50 million payable upon closing the transaction and a remainder payable based on pre-determined development and regulatory achievements.

Blackstone has also announced an agreement to purchase $100 million of Autolus’ American Depositary Shares in a private placement – subject to customary closing conditions – which has further provided Blackstone with the right to nominate a member to Autolus’ board of directors.

“Autolus is a world-class company with an innovative platform and the potential to deliver best-in-class, lifesaving treatments to patients suffering from cancer,” Dr Nicholas Galakatos, Global Head of Blackstone Life Sciences, commented.

“Our investment in these next generation cell therapies exemplify our conviction in the quality and promise of the life sciences sector in the UK. We look forward to building on this investment in the years to come,” Nicholas continued.

“We are excited to collaborate with Autolus in support of their innovative platform pursuing safer, more durable, therapies with the potential to be lifesaving options for patients with ALL and beyond. We see a significant opportunity to improve the outlook for cancer patients who are facing a devastating course of their disease. This investment continues to build on our conviction in not just innovative cell and gene therapies, but also supporting innovation in the United Kingdom and Europe broadly.” Nicholas Simon, Senior Managing Director of Blackstone Life Sciences, added.

In a press release published by Blackstone Life Sciences, the company explains how the investment bolsters Blackstone’s commitment to the UK economy, having invested more than $18 billion across 44 UK-headquartered investments, and thus supporting more than 27,000 jobs.

UK Science Minister, George Freeman, further stated:

“This is another vote of confidence in the quality of life science in the UK, reinforcing our reputation as a world leader in discovering new cures for currently untreatable diseases like Autolus’ T cell therapy drugs for leukaemia. Big investments like these give real hope to those suffering from diseases like leukaemia – and create high skill jobs & opportunities in the development and manufacturing of treatments to help develop and boost our life science clusters all around the UK.”

This week Autolus celebrated a ground-breaking ceremony for a dedicated manufacturing facility in Stevenage to support a global launch capacity for obe-cel. The 70,000 square foot building will house the GMP manufacturing capacity for approximately 2,000 batches a year, as Autolus moves from clinical trial manufacturing based inside the Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult facilities.

For the Blackstone Life Sciences investment, Moelis & Company LLC acted as financial advisor. Cooley LLP and Cooley (UK) LLP acted as legal advisor to Autolus, and Goodwin Procter LLP acted as legal advisor to Blackstone.

Source: Blackstone Life Sciences press release