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Thursday, Aug 18, 2022

Immpact Bio’s New CEO Has Fresh $111 Million

 Camarillo-based cell therapy company Immpact Bio USA Inc. has closed $111 million in Series B financing and appointed Dr. Sumant Ramachandra as its chief executive. 

The Series B was led by venBio Partners, Foresite Capital and Decheng Capital. Additional funding was provided by existing investors in OrbiMed, Novartis Venture Fund, RM Global Partners and Bukwang Pharmaceutical.  

“We are pleased to join this distinguished group of health care investors supporting this world-class team to advance what we believe could become a new paradigm in cancer treatment,” Dr. Min Cui, Decheng’s managing director, said in a statement. 

Funds from the financing will be used to further the company’s development of CAR T-cell platforms that are used for the treatment of solid tumors and blood cancers. Specifically, funds will be allocated toward building out the company’s talent base, constructing a new facility in West Hills and supplementing further clinical trials that will take the lion’s share of the financing. 

“We’re going to spend the right money to get high-quality products, high-quality individuals so that we can actually ensure that the patient gets the right care,” Ramachandra said. 

The financing, according to Ramachandra, will likely be enough to fund Immpact for more than two years. Sometime in the next year or so, the company will consider whether to pursue another round of funding or to go public. 


Promising studies 

Ramachandra’s appointment as chief executive comes as the industry veteran had amassed more than 30 years of experience in health care, much of which was spent in the pharmaceutical and medical device industries. Immpact’s former Chief Executive Dr. Rick Kendall will continue as chief scientific officer. 

Ramachandra’s journey to Immpact came as a result of personal and professional forces. His wife was seeking a move to California from Illinois to be closer to her brother, and Ramachandra himself was looking for a professional and personal reinvention in the biotech industry. 

“I was looking in general oncology and suddenly, this company fell in my lap,” Ramachandra said. “I looked at it and it has been a lot of what I am interested in, but with very solid data.” 

Immpact has a Phase 1 clinical study that is evaluating the company’s CAR T in patients with refractory or relapsed B-cell non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Seven of eight patients treated with the CAR T, with 12 months median follow up, remain in complete remission. 

According to the American Cancer Society, B-cell lymphomas make up about 85 percent of the non-Hodgkin lymphomas in the United States. 

The treatment, according to Ramachandra, is promising from a scientific and business perspective in that it delivers efficacy, durability and patient tolerability. Ramachandra said such a trifecta is a rare thing when it comes to CAR T cell therapy, which can cause patients to suffer from neurotoxicity and can also fail to keep non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma at bay in certain cases. 

Ramachandra said that competition in the cell therapy space is at a very high level as companies are going after different types of diseases in different ways.  

“It’s amazing what’s happening, and we want to be part of that,” Ramachandra said. “But most importantly, the number one thing we have to do is develop therapies for patients that become broadly available.” 

In addition to the Camarillo headquarters, the company maintains a research lab in Israel.  

Antonio Pequeño IV
Antonio Pequeño IV
Antonio “Tony” Pequeño IV is a reporter covering health care, finance and law for the San Fernando Valley Business Journal. He specializes in reporting on some of the biggest names in the Valley’s biotechnology sector. In addition to his work with the Business Journal, Tony has reported with BuzzFeed News on the unsupervised use of Clearview AI, a controversial facial recognition technology. Tony, who also conducts freelance reporting, graduated from the USC’s Master of Science in Journalism program in 2021. He is in his fifth year as a journalist as of 2021.

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