October 21, 2014
Fidelity Biosciences and Atlas Venture Lead $12 Million Series A Funding to Launch Unum Therapeutics, a New Cellular Immunotherapy Company
Unum has built a universal cellular immunotherapy platform based on proprietary antibody-coupled T-cell receptor (ACTR) technology
CAMBRIDGE, MA, October 21, 2014 – Unum Therapeutics, a company developing cellular immunotherapy to treat cancer, announced today that it has raised $12 million in Series A funding led by Fidelity Biosciences and Atlas Venture, with participation from Sanofi-Genzyme BioVentures. Unum has built a platform for cancer treatment based upon an antibody-coupled T-cell receptor (ACTR). Genetically programming T-cells with ACTR allows them to efficiently attack and kill tumor cells using targeting antibodies. In contrast to other approaches that are limited to a single target and treat a narrow set of tumors, Unum’s approach is not restricted by antigen and may have applications for treating many types of cancers. Unum plans to use capital raised through this financing to advance its lead candidate through initial proof-of-concept clinical studies, further enhance the ACTR technology, and establish partnerships to access tumor-specific antibodies for a pipeline of novel combination therapies.
Industry veteran Charles “Chuck” Wilson, PhD, will serve as President & CEO. Before founding Unum, Dr. Wilson led the team responsible for partnering to support research and early development at Novartis. With many oncology and immuno-oncology deals to his credit, he brings extensive experience to Unum spanning from early drug discovery through Phase II clinical development. Prior to Novartis, Dr. Wilson held both scientific and business management roles in biotech.
“We’ve created Unum to rapidly develop this universal cell therapy platform and to explore its potential in a number of different cancer types,” said Dr. Wilson. “With our Series A funding from Fidelity Biosciences, Atlas Venture, and Sanofi-Genzyme BioVentures, we will drive our lead program into Phase I testing and aim to quickly validate the ACTR approach in the clinic.”
Dario Campana, MD, PhD, is the company’s Scientific Founder. Dr. Campana is an established leader in the field of cancer cell therapies. At the National University of Singapore (NUS), he developed the ACTR technology that forms the basis for Unum. At St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital (Memphis, TN), he created a chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) approach that is currently being pursued by several pharma and biotech companies. He currently oversees a number of cell therapy clinical trials in oncology.
In addition to Drs. Wilson and Campana, Unum Therapeutics’ management team also includes Chief Scientific Officer Seth Ettenberg, PhD, a cancer biologist and drug development scientist with extensive experience leading teams in biotechnology and large pharmaceutical drug discovery settings. Dr. Ettenberg most recently served as the Cambridge site head for Novartis Oncology Biotherapeutics.
The initial Board of Directors for Unum Therapeutics is comprised of:
Chuck Wilson, PhD, President & CEO, Unum Therapeutics
Ben Auspitz, Partner, Fidelity Biosciences
Bruce Booth, DPhil, Partner, Atlas Venture
“Unum combines a strong, experienced management team, a transformational technology that may revolutionize cancer treatment, and top scientific and business development talent,” said Mr. Auspitz. “It has the right combination of resources to carry out its vision of bringing to market a single therapy that can augment the activity of many different antibodies to treat many different cancers.”
About Unum Therapeutics
Unum Therapeutics uses proprietary T-cell engineering technology in combination with tumor-targeting antibodies to activate the body’s own immune system to fight cancer. Unum’s lead program, based on its Antibody-Coupled T-cell Receptor (ACTR) technology, is expected to enter Phase I clinical testing in the coming months to assess safety and efficacy. Unum is seeking partners interested in using the ACTR technology to arm proprietary tumor-specific antibodies with a T-cell to improve their therapeutic potential. The company is headquartered in Cambridge, MA.
About Fidelity Biosciences
Fidelity Biosciences (www.fidelitybiosciences.com) invests venture capital in biopharmaceutical, medical technology, healthcare information technology and healthcare service companies. The firm is a subsidiary of FMR LLC, the parent company of Fidelity Investments, one of the world’s leading providers of financial services. For more than 40 years, Fidelity has been a significant presence in the venture capital and private equity industry.
About Atlas Venture
Based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Atlas Venture is focused on becoming the reference early-stage investor in New England. We are contrarian, patient, and aggressive investors. More information is available at www.atlasventure.com.
About Sanofi-Genzyme BioVentures
Sanofi-Genzyme BioVentures (SGBV) is a strategic fund that invests in early stage companies developing promising new products based on breakthrough science that may become future Sanofi pipeline candidates. SGBV’s investments align with Sanofi’s current and future areas of business interest such as rare diseases, oncology, vaccines, immune-mediated diseases, and other breakthrough therapies as well as integrated care solutions. For more information, visit us at www.sanofigenzymebioventures.com.