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CAR-T player Autolus seeks $100m from follow-on financing

Funds will further develop pipeline

Autolus

Recently-listed cell therapy company Autolus has pressed the button on a follow-up financing, with expectations of raising around $100m.

The Nasdaq-listed biotech company - considered one of the brightest prospects of the UK biotech sector thanks to its promising CAR-T and TCR technologies – says it will use the net proceeds of around $94m and its existing cash mainly for trials of its lead candidates and to build up its manufacturing capacity.

After a $100m initial public offering last year, Autolus is sitting on upwards of $200m ahead of the follow-on financing.

It is earmarking $125m to continue the clinical development of its pipeline, headed by CD19-targeted CAR-T therapy AUTO1 in adult acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) – a rival to Novartis’ already-approved CAR-T Kymriah (tisagenlecleucel) – which recently generated results in a phase 1/2 trial conducted at University College London.

Autolus is planning a pivotal trial of AUTO1, which it says has fewer side effects than Kymriah and so should be more suitable for older patients who tend to be sicker and less able to tolerate toxicity.

Part of the funding block will also go on completing the proof-of-concept phases of its phase 1/2 clinical trials of dual CD19 and CD22 targeting CAR-T AUTO3 in paediatric ALL and diffuse large B cell lymphoma (DLBCL), as well as to continue development of two other CAR-Ts: anti-BCMA/TACI therapy AUTO2 for multiple myeloma and AUTO4 for peripheral T-cell lymphoma, which targets TRBC1.

Another $30m will go on earlier-stage candidates for blood cancers and solid tumours, but a sizeable $75m tranche has been set aside to build up Autolus’ manufacturing capabilities so they can support pivotal trials and a possible commercial launches.

“We expect that the net proceeds from this offering, combined with our current cash, will be sufficient to fund operations into the second half of 2021, but that we will need to raise additional capital in order to develop and commercialize our product candidates,” said Autolus in an filing with the US Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC).

Goldman Sachs and Jefferies are acting as joint book-running managers for the offering, with Wells Fargo Securities and William Blair acting as lead managers.

A spokesperson for Jefferies said the transaction “demonstrates the continued strong interest in the CAR-T and immunotherapy sector”, adding: “Autolus is developing next-generation CAR-T treatments that it hopes will have an edge over the first wave of therapies.”

Article by
Phil Taylor

12th April 2019

From: Research, Sales

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