California-based PACT is aiming to establish cell therapies in the treatment of solid tumors. Using genome engineering technologies, PACT modifies a patient’s own T cells to equip them to zero in on tumor cells that express certain mutations.
The potential of the approach and list of people involved with PACT, which includes Nobel Laureate David Baltimore, has enabled the company to raise money from investors including GV, Canaan and AbbVie Ventures.
Now, PACT has raised fresh funds. Vida Ventures, an investment group co-founded by ex-Kite Pharma CEO Arie Belldegrun, led the $75m (€67m) Series C financing round.
PACT will use some of the money to support the manufacturing side of its operation, which is set to receive a boost later this year with the opening of a new facility in South San Francisco, US. The good manufacturing practice plant will provide PACT with end-to-end capabilities for the production and supply of engineered, personalized neoantigen-targeted autologous T cells.
The nature of the drugs in development at PACT make manufacturing a key part of its business. As companies including Dendreon and Novartis have found, making medicines based on a patient’s own cells while keeping the cost of goods sold under control is challenging.
As part of its attempt to rise to that challenge, PACT has put Tim Moore, the former EVP of technical operations at Kite, in charge of reducing cycle times and manufacturing costs through automation.
The Series C provides Moore and PACT with additional money to support work toward that goal. The Series C also gives PACT access to the support of people who know what it takes to get cell therapies to market as the Vida team is dotted with former employees of Kite, one the first companies to bring a CAR-T therapy to market.
This experience contributed to PACT wanting to receive investment from Vida.
PACT CEO Alex Franzusoff said, “Vida Ventures stood out as a partner of choice, given their depth of operational experience in research, clinical development and manufacturing in cell therapy, as well as their proven ability to guide companies like Kite and Allogene across key stages of development.”