Carisma Therapeutics Inc., formerly known as Carma Therapeutics, a Philadelphia, PA-based biotechnology company focused on the development of macrophage-based immunotherapeutics, closed a $53m Series A financing.
The round was led by AbbVie Ventures and HealthCap with participation from existing seed investors IP Group, Penn Medicine and Grazia Equity and new investors Wellington Partners, TPG Biotech, MRL Ventures Fund and Agent Capital.
The company intends to use the funds to further expand its technology platform and drive its programs toward clinical development.
Founded by Saar Gill, MD, PhD, an assistant professor of Hematology-Oncology in Penn’s Abramson Cancer Center, and Michael Klichinsky, PharmD, a PhD candidate in Systems Pharmacology and Translational Therapeutics, in partnership with the UPstart Program of the Penn Center for Innovation at the University of Pennsylvania, and led by Steven Kelly, CEO, Carisma Therapeutics is a company bringing adoptive cellular immunotherapy to solid tumor patients through a platform using chimeric antigen receptor macrophages. Its proprietary CAR-Macrophage platform combines antigen recognition with the effector function of macrophages. The proposed dual mechanism of action includes the ability to directly kill targeted cells and the ability to leverage antigen-presenting cell biology to mount an adaptive immune response. Initial applications for therapeutic candidates will be in the treatment of solid tumors. Other potential applications include the disruption of protein aggregates in multiple disease states.
The company anticipates initiating clinical development in 2019.
The team also includes Dora Mitchell, PhD as Head of Operations and Daniel Cushing, PhD heading development. The company’s founders will be joined on the Scientific Advisory Board by Drs. Carl H. June, Lisa M. Coussens, Reinhard Andreesen and S. Jane Flint. The Board of Directors will be comprised of Margarita Chavez, JD, Managing Director of AbbVie Ventures; Jacob Gunterberg, Partner of HealthCap; Regina Hodits, PhD, Managing Partner of Wellington Partners; Steven Kelly, CEO; Eran Nadav, PhD, Senior Advisor of TPG Biotech; Althea Stillman, PhD, Associate Director at IP Group Inc.; and Bruce Peacock, Chairman.