June 28, 2018 Source: FierceBiotech 128
Philadelphia-based Carisma Therapeutics bagged $53 million in series A funding, led by AbbVie Ventures Co-led by HealthCap, new backers Wellington Partners, MRL Ventures Fund, TPG Biotech, and Agent Capital. The startup which focuses in immunotherapy (Chimeric antigen receptor) CAR-Macrophage platform is planning to use its new fund to take its lead CAR-macrophage candidate into human testing.
Rather than combining CARs with T-cells, Carisma Therapeutics combining them with macrophages to create therapies equipped to effectively to take out solid tumors. It is difficult for modified T-cells to reach solid tumors and to be sustained in the immunosuppressive microenvironment that surrounds them. T cells are not as well equipped as macrophages to cope effectively with the oxygen and nutrient deprivation they experience in the tumor microenvironment, making macrophages the dominant immune cells in these areas and a possible candidate for the treatment of solid tumors. Carisma plans to take macrophages from a cancer patient, revise them to express CARs that identify tumor antigens and direct them back into the same person. Once inside the body, Carisma thinks the cells will invade solid tumors and surround cancer cells. Macrophage will present tumor antigen particles to T cells to activate an immune response.
UPenn’s Michael Klichinsky and Saar Gill, M.D., Ph.D., saw great potential in the idea to found Carisma, formally known as Carma (chimeric antigen receptor macrophages) Therapeutics. Now, with serial biotech entrepreneur Steven Kelly at the helm and the hunt for a CMO and CSO underway, Carisma has raised money to further test the idea.By Ddu
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