Appia Bio, Inc., an early-stage biotechnology company developing engineered allogeneic cell therapies from hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) for cancer patients, today announced its launch from stealth backed by $52 million Series A financing led by 8VC. Other investors included Two Sigma Ventures, among others, and participation from seed investors Sherpa Healthcare Partners and Freeflow Ventures.
Appia Bio is focused on discovering and developing off-the-shelf allogeneic cell therapies across a broad array of cancer indications, utilizing a scalable technology platform with the goal to increase access for patients. With its ACUA technology platform, Appia Bio leverages the biology of lymphocyte development with chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) and T-cell receptor (TCR) gene engineering to generate CAR-engineered invariant natural killer T (CAR-iNKT) cells from HSCs. The ACUA platform originated from groundbreaking research in the laboratory of Lili Yang, Ph.D., associate professor at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), and her collaborations with the Company’s other scientific founders.
Proceeds from the financing will support the advancement of Appia Bio’s pipeline of allogeneic CAR-iNKT cell therapy candidates into the clinic. As part of the Series A financing, Francisco Gimenez, Ph.D., partner, and David Moskowitz, Ph.D., principal, at 8VC, join the Company’s board of directors, and David Baltimore, Ph.D., of the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) was elected chairman of the Board.
“There is tremendous potential to be explored in allogeneic cell therapies. The Board and I look forward to working with this stellar team to create transformative cell therapies that will help patients and the physicians who treat them,” said Dr. Baltimore.
“We are grateful to our new and existing investors for their commitment to bring off-the-shelf allogeneic cell therapies to more patients,” said JJ Kang, Ph.D., co-founder, and chief executive officer (CEO) of Appia Bio. “This financing will position us to rapidly build out our CAR-iNKT pipeline and establish the clinical potential of our ACUA platform. We are excited to work with an outstanding Scientific Advisory Board that brings together world-class expertise and experience across the many fields necessary to develop cell therapies.”
Appia Bio announced the establishment of a Scientific Advisory Board with leaders in immunology, immuno-oncology, and cell therapy engineering. These experts join Appia Bio’s scientific founders in advising the Company’s research and development.
- Mitchell Kronenberg, Ph.D., president and CSO, La Jolla Institute for Immunology
- Antoni Ribas, MD, Ph.D., professor of medicine, UCLA, and director of the Tumor Immunology Program at the Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center
- Margo Roberts, Ph.D., former CSO, Kite Pharma, and Lyell Immunopharma
“We are thrilled to partner with Appia Bio as it typifies the innovative, founder-driven start-ups we love to empower,” said Dr. Gimenez. “Appia unifies compelling biology of iNKT cells with the power of CARs. This is only possible because of their fundamental innovations in manufacturing and engineering these cells.”
The Company was founded in 2020 in Los Angeles, California, by a team of experts and industry leaders with a proven track record of cell therapy development and company building.
- David Baltimore, Ph.D., Nobel Laureate, president emeritus, and distinguished professor of biology, Caltech
- JJ Kang, Ph.D., CEO, Appia Bio; former partner, The Column Group
- Edmund Kim, Ph.D., chief operating officer of Appia Bio; former vice president of corporate development, Kite Pharma
- Pin Wang, Ph.D., professor of chemical engineering and materials science and biomedical engineering, University of Southern California (USC)
- Jeff Wiezorek, MD, chief medical officer, Appia Bio; former head of cell therapy development, Kite Pharma
- Lili Yang, Ph.D., associate professor of microbiology, immunology, and molecular genetics, UCLA