PHILADELPHIA, Jan. 12, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Tmunity Therapeutics today announced that it is raising $10 Million in equity financing from Penn Medicine, the academic medical center of the University of Pennsylvania (Penn), and Lilly Asia Ventures, a premier venture capital firm focused on making investments in the life sciences sector. The financing will represent the first capital investment for Penn Medicine in a company co-founded by Penn faculty and researchers. The proceeds of the financing will be used to develop novel products to unleash the immunological potential of T cells to treat a wide range of diseases. Tmunity is developing novel T Cell Receptor (TCR) engineered T cells, regulatory T cells (Treg), and universal engineered T cell platforms that exhibit best-in-class control over T cell activation and direction in vivo. The company is also developing proprietary technologies to activate, expand, and genetically engineer T cells from peripheral blood, cord blood and tumors. These will rapidly advance toward the clinic personalized next-generation engineered T cell immunotherapies for cancer, infectious diseases and autoimmune disease.
"The creation of Tmunity is the culmination of a more than decade-long commitment by Penn and our founding team to link basic and translational research with clinical trial investigation, and will ensure that we remain at the leading edge in advancing cell therapies for multiple diseases," said Carl H. June, MD, co-founder and chief scientific advisor of Tmunity Therapeutics. "Tmunity has pulled together all of the capabilities needed to quickly translate personalized next-generation T cell therapies from the bench to the bedside, including: best-in-class research capabilities, a proprietary manufacturing platform, and a founding team with a leading track record and nearly two decades of experience in executing safe and effective cell and gene therapy clinical trials."
Tmunity builds on the work of Penn's Center for Cellular Immunotherapies (CCI), which has over 15 years of specialized regulatory experience in initiating first in human cell and gene therapy trials, with 25 investigational new drug applications opened. Penn's CCI works with a network of clinical investigators trained to conduct high impact gene and cell therapy trials in many disease indications and with clinical operations teams that have set up and managed multi-site clinical trials across the United States. Tmunity's expertise in the advancement of novel therapeutics builds on this legacy of innovation and excellence in cell and gene therapy established by Tmunity's co-founders at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. Many of Tmunity's scientific co-founders are affiliated with Penn's CCI and will engage with Tmunity as scientific advisors, including Carl H. June, MD, a T-cell therapy pioneer, who is also director of the CCI.
Tmunity's founding team includes preeminent T cell biology researchers and experts in clinical development, regulatory affairs, and manufacturing who have been at the forefront of advancing cell therapies as viable treatments for patients.
- Anne Chew, PhD, co-founder and advisor, is the Executive Deputy Director of Penn's Center for Cellular Immunotherapies. She has extensive experience in translational research and early phase development of investigational T cell and gene therapies.
- Carl H. June, MD, co-founder and chief scientific advisor, is the Richard W. Vague Professor of Immunotherapy in the department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine in the Perelman School of Medicine and director of Translational Research in Penn's Abramson Cancer Center. He is a cancer and HIV expert who is widely recognized as leader of the team responsible for the first successful and sustained demonstration of the use of engineered T cell therapy. He has received many accolades in recognition of this outstanding work, including the Paul Ehrlich and Ludwig Darmstaedter Prize, the AACR-CRI Lloyd J. Old Award in Cancer Immunology, and the Philadelphia Award.
- Bruce Levine, PhD, co-founder and advisor, is the Barbara and Edward Netter Professor in Cancer Gene Therapy in the department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Penn's Abramson Cancer Center, and director of Penn's Clinical Cell and Vaccine Production Facility. He is a world leader in T cell engineering and has more than 20 years experience managing the development, manufacture, and testing of novel cell and gene therapies, including a number of first in human clinical trials.
- James L. Riley, PhD, co-founder and advisor, is an associate professor of Microbiology and member of the Center for Cellular Immunotherapies at Penn's Perelman School of Medicine. His research focuses on the cell biology of and therapeutic use of primary human T-cells. He has more than 20 years experience developing adoptive T cell therapies for HIV-1, cancer and autoimmune diseases.
- Yangbing Zhao, MD, PhD, co-founder and advisor, is the director of the T-Cell Engineering Laboratory at the Center for Cellular Immunotherapies and Adjunct Associate Professor in the Department of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine at Penn's Perelman School of Medicine. He has more than 20 years experience in T cell engineering and his seminal work, including developing highly efficient RNA electroporation of T lymphocytes, has directly led to multiple clinical trials of treating cancer patients with T cells engineered with TCR and CARs.
- Bruce Blazar, MD, co-founder and advisor, is the Regent's Professor of Pediatrics, Director of the Clinical and Translational Science Institute as well as the Center for Translational Medicine, and Children's Cancer Research Fund Land Grant Chair in Pediatric Oncology at the University of Minnesota. Over more than 30 years, he has made seminal contributions in dissecting the mechanisms underlying graft-versus-host-disease (GVHD), a major complication of blood and marrow transplantation, and in developing new therapies to prevent and treat GVHD while preserving anti-tumor immunity. His studies have resulted in pivotal trials, bringing novel pharmaceutical agents, proteins, and cell therapies to the clinic.
About Tmunity Therapeutics
Tmunity Therapeutics is developing novel products to unleash the immunological potential of T cells to treat a wide range of disease indications. Tmunity is developing novel T Cell Receptor (TCR) engineered T cells, regulatory T cells (Treg), and universal engineered T cell platforms that exhibit best-in-class control over T cell activation and direction in vivo, as well as proprietary technologies to activate, expand, and genetically engineer T cells from peripheral blood, cord blood and tumors. The company is rapidly advancing toward the clinic personalized next-generation immunotherapies for oncology, infectious diseases and autoimmune disease. The founding team includes experts in T-cell biology, manufacturing, regulatory affairs, and clinical development, who collectively have an unparalleled track record of executing safe and effective cell and gene therapy clinical trials. In addition, Tmunity's manufacturing platform has a proven track record of success in supporting multi-center clinical studies across diverse therapeutic indications.
SOURCE Tmunity Therapeutics