Temasek leads US$85m investment round for gene therapy start-up Gracell Biotech

SINGAPORE - Immnune cell gene therapy start-up Gracell Biotechnologies has raised US$85 million (S$114.8 million) through a series B round led by Singapore government investment firm Temasek Holdings.

Also taking part in the financing round were Lilly Asia Ventures, Kington Capital, King Star Capital and Chengdu Miaoji.

The company's goal is to develop high-quality, low-cost, easy-to-use cellular gene therapies that bring hope to cancer patients in need," said Gracell founder, chairman and CEO Dr William Cao, who previously headed Nasdaq-listed Cellular Biomedicine Group.

Suzhou, China-based Gracell, whose technology focuses on developing modified immune cells called T-cells, will use the proceeds to enter clinical trials for several of its next-generation candidates. The company has already completed pre-clinical development of a series of low-cost Chimeric Antigen Receptors T-cell (CAR T) therapy products and entered Institutional Review Board (IRB) clinical research.

The company said that it expects to develop a data package from its clinical IRB studies and advance several products to Investigational New Drug filings and clinical trials in the near future.

"Immune cell gene therapy is expected to become a pillar of modern medicine, but the industry is still in its infancy,"said Dr Cao. "Gracell has a leading technology platform and a mission-driven team that is committed to solving industry-wide cellular gene therapy technical difficulties."

Gracell previously received series A financing from 6 Dimensions.