Tmunity, started with a bang, ends with a whimper

The writing had been on the wall for Tmunity Therapeutics for some time, so today’s deal, under which the private biotech’s founding owners are selling the business to Gilead, will bring much-needed closure. Tmunity had been set up with much fanfare in 2015 as a spin-out of the University of Pennsylvania, whose earlier work led to Novartis’s development of Kymriah. Apparently frustrated by Novartis’s reluctance to go far beyond Kymriah in Car-T, the Penn team, headed by Dr Carl June, decided to take their novel ideas into the new startup, which later attracted $220m in venture financing and named Oz Azam, Novartis’s former head of cell therapy, chief executive. But it took a long time to get FDA clearance for a clinical trial of a Crispr-edited Car-T project. Clinical hold for another asset followed, and then this year Mr Azam quietly resigned. When the Tmunity team, including Dr June, later founded a new startup, Capstan Therapeutics, Tmunity effectively became a biotech zombie. After Arcellx this is Gilead’s second Car-T deal this month, but the group is not revealing what it is paying for Tmunity, suggesting that the amount is small.

The rise and fall of Tmunity
Dec 2022 Gilead buys Tmunity for undisclosed amount
Sep 2022 Penn scientists, including Drs Carl June and Bruce Levine, found Capstan Therapeutics
Feb 2022 Oz Azam resigns (move not announced by Tmunity)
Jun 2021 Separate Tmunity project, TmPSMA 01, is put on clinical hold after 2 patient deaths
May 2020 Crispr-edited Car-T study is terminated 
Jan 2018 $100m series A round includes Gilead and the Parker Institute
Dec 2016 Oz Azam, Novartis's former head of cell therapy, is named CEO
2016 IND filed for the west's first Crispr-edited Car-T therapy, but it then takes another 2 years for Tmunity to begin the study
Dec 2015 Company founded by Penn scientists, including Drs Carl June and Bruce Levine

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