Capstan Therapeutics – Spin-Out from Penn University Launches with $165 Million to Deliver in vivo CAR-T

Anna Osborne
20 September 2022
Cell Therapy
Finance & Investment
Gene Therapy
Patient Access & Engagement
Viral/Non-Viral Vectors
Biotechnology company Capstan Therapeutics has announced its launch with a backing of $165 Million in finance to develop and deliver precise in vivo cell engineering.

Built on a foundation of expertise Capstan Therapeutics is the project of world-renowned mRNA and cell therapy scientists and clinicians from the University of Pennsylvania, with its precision in vivo engineering technology formulated upon research conducted at the University’s laboratories.

Focusing on cell type-specific genetic engineering across multiple indications including oncology, autoimmune disease, blood disorders, and fibrosis, the group at Capstan are dedicated to bringing safer fist-in-class medicines to patients across the world.

“Capstan is uniting several recent life science technological advances in a manner that can hopefully unlock the potential of these technologies to develop new medicines for patients across a wider range of diseases,” said Drew Weissman, Co-Founder of Capstan, who serves as the Roberts Family Professor in Vaccine Research and Director of the Penn Institute for RNA Innovation in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.

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An initial seed funding of $63 million raised in November 2021 was led by Novartis Venture Fund and OriMed, and joined by RA Capital and Vida Ventures.

These investors joined in the subsequent recent closed $102 million Series A financing led by Pfizer Ventures, which also featured Leaps by Bayer, Eli Lilly, Bristol Myers Squibb, Polaris Partners, and, Alexandria Venture Investments.

These financings will be used by Capstan to advance its in vivo CAR programs through utilizing its founders’ biological and technological expertise, to deliver outpatient treatments and transform clinical standards of care for patients of diseases for which there are currently no effective treatments.

Capstan’s modular platform benefits from an impressive host of processes developed by the scientists behind the start-up including a proprietary targeted lipid nanoparticles (tLNP) technology, a suite of targeting moieties to mediate cell-type-specific uptake, and diseases-specific mRNA payloads aimed at directly engineering pathogenic cells through in vivo generated CAR-T cells.

The company’s founders include several experts from the University of Pennsylvania behind two preclinical proof-of-concept studies establishing non-viral in vivo CAR-T therapy, as well as a combined diverse range of research expertise covering preclinical translation, cell engineering, mRNA and targeted LNP technologies, and immunology and Fibrosis.

Capstan recently announced the appointment of Laura Shawver as President and CEO. Laura joins Adrian Bot CSO, and Priya Karmali CTO in making up the leadership team.

“Capstan builds on a deep history of collaborative research in mRNA-enabled and CARbased medicines by our incredible group of scientific founders. The company was established to deliver on the promise of cell-based medicines, and with Laura at the helm, is well-positioned to make rapid progress towards clinical evaluation,” comments Christian Homsy, Capstan’s founding CEO.

Source: Capstan Press Release

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