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Oxford Biomedica gets £53m cash injection from Novo venture arm

Cell and gene therapy specialist needs to invest to stay ahead

oxb

Cell and gene therapy specialist Oxford Biomedica has been given a £53.5m infusion of cash from Novo Holdings in exchange for a 10% stake in the company.

Novo Holdings is the venture arm of the Novo Nordisk Foundation and invests in up and coming innovative life sciences companies, and has chosen to buy into the UK-based as growth in the cell and gene therapy field continues apace.

Oxford BioMedica is a key player in the sector, thanks to its world-class LentiVector platform, which includes among its customers Novartis and its CAR-T therapy Kymriah.

The company is pursuing a dual strategy of supporting partners in the development and commercialisation of their gene and cell therapy programmes, while at the same time developing its own in-house product portfolio for later out-licensing.

Among these is OXB-102 (AXO-Lenti-PD), a Parkinson’s disease candidate which was outlicensed to Axovant Gene Therapies, and from whom the firm recently received a milestone payment when the therapy entered phase 2 clinical trials.

However the strategy has its downsides too: Sanofi recently dropped the firm's myosin VIIA gene therapy UshStat from its phase 2 development.

Oxford BioMedica says it will spend its new investment on repaying the existing debt facility with Oaktree Capital Management in full and to further develop the LentiVector platform and the proprietary product portfolio.

The company’s gross income increased by 72% to £67.9m in2018, and broke into profit last year as well, generating an operating EBITDA of £13.4m, compared to loss of nearly £2m the year before.

By clearing its Oaktree Capital Management debt, the company can now look to accelerate its growth.

The company is far from alone in the cell and gene therapy manufacturing and R&D field, with many pharma and biotech companies making major investments, as well as other specialist service suppliers also pouring money into developing bigger capacity and next generation platforms. 

The rapidity with which the competition is growing means the company was happy to sell a major stake of its shares to Novo Holdings so that it can invest and set the pace in the field.

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John Dawson

“We are delighted that Novo Holdings has become a shareholder in Oxford Biomedica,” said John Dawson, chief executive of Oxford Biomedica.

“Novo Holdings is a well-known and highly regarded long-term investor with significant expertise in working with innovative, life sciences businesses to unlock their growth potential. This experience will be a great asset far beyond the financial commitment they have made to the Group and their collaboration and support will be highly valuable as we seek to scale up our operations both on the platform and on the proprietary product portfolio.”

Article by
Andrew McConaghie

29th May 2019

From: Research

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