Secretive Lyell pulls back the curtain
The highly secretive biotech Lyell Immunopharma had already raised $493m in the second-biggest private financing of 2020, and yesterday brought news of its plan to float. Lyell hopes to raise at least $150m in the IPO, whose post-money valuation has yet to be set. The group’s pipeline is wholly preclinical, and no IND will even be filed until next year – a fact that might ordinarily restrain enthusiasm. But Lyell is backed by the former chief executive of Juno, Hans Bishop, whose other preclinical biotech, Sana, floated at a valuation of about $4bn. So secretive is Lyell that it was only recently revealed who else was behind the company, and its SEC filing spells out that it appears to be the brainchild of Drs Stan Riddell, formerly of Juno, and Crystal Mackall, ex-NCI – both highly prominent Car-T pioneers. Another Juno/NCI veteran, Rick Klausner, was until recently chief executive, for which he was paid $38.9m in 2020, but last August Liz Homans, formerly of Roche, took over that role. The filing also reveals Lyell’s pipeline to be a mix of Car-T, engineered TCR and TIL approaches, which scientifically tend not to make happy bedfellows.
|Lyell's pipeline (all projects preclinical)|
|LYL797||Anti-Ror1 Car-T||Ex vivo reprogrammed to overcome T-cell exhaustion and impart durable stemness||Juno/Hutch had been developing an anti-Ror1 Car-T therapy, JCAR024, apparently based on the same rabbit-derived binder|
|LYL845||Polyclonal TILs||Ex vivo reprogrammed to impart durable stemness||Targeting solid tumour use|
|NY-ESO-1c259||Anti-NY-ESO-1 eTCR||Ex vivo reprogrammed to overcome T-cell exhaustion or impart durable stemness||Partnered with Glaxosmithkline, for synovial sarcoma and other uses|
|Source: SEC document.|