Funding / Life sciences

VintaBio, aiming to meet cell and gene therapy manufacturing needs, launches with $64M raise

Its Penn researcher cofounders are the pair who developed the first viral vectors used for life-saving therapies.

A view of the biotech industry. (Photo by Flickr user ibmphoto24, used via a Creative Commons license)

Another life sciences company is launching in Philadelphia: VintaBio came out of “stealth” mode Tuesday with the announcement of a $64 million investment led by Decheng Capital, and the aim of serving the growing cell and gene therapy industry.

The Navy Yard-based company’s primary goal is to ease the flow of manufacturing for these cell and gene therapy companies, and has opened a 22,500-square-foot facility to do so.

The company was founded by University of Pennsylvania researchers Junwei Sun and Dr. Shangzhen Zhou. The pair developed the first viral vectors used for life-saving therapies, including for the first pediatric patient to receive CAR T-Cell therapy. They are also behind Penn’s Center for Advanced Retinal and Ocular Therapeutics (CAROT) and the CAROT Research Vector Core, respectively.

With VintaBio, the cofounders’ goal is quickly scaling potentially life-saving treatments. VintaBio focuses on developing and manufacturing consistent viral vectors, a “vital and currently underserved” area within cell and gene therapy development, per a company statement. The Navy Yard facility offers services for process development, analytical method support and viral vector manufacturing.

“I cofounded VintaBio to make sure viral vectors never prevent someone from receiving a life-changing treatment. At Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, where we developed the first gene therapy product for a group of congenital blind patients, which became Luxturna, and then created a gene therapy for babies with spinal muscular atrophy, which became Zolgensma, I saw the important role viral vectors would play in advanced medicines,” Zhou said in a statement. “With VintaBio, we now want to provide the ability to scale cutting-edge therapies for thousands more in-need patients.”

The company’s CEO, David Radspinner, has worked in global marketing and sales at a handful of bioproduction companies including GE Healthcare Life Sciences (Cytiva), ILC Dover and Thermo Fisher Scientific. He credited the cofounders for their work in the field, saying he joined the team because he didn’t see other comercial facilities built specifically for cell and gene therapy with the type of experince they had.

“Shangzhen and Junwei have played key roles developing the very first cell and gene therapies, giving us unparalleled insights into how we can leverage viral vectors to enable similarly impactful therapies across the life sciences spectrum,” Radspinner said in a statement.

The $64 million raise funded the building of the local facility and getting a team off the ground to begin production. The facility is open and accepting orders, VintaBio said.

The region’s life sciences industry has been steadily growing over the last decade or so, and has consistently been named among the top places in the country for cell and gene therapy. In September, Philadelphia was named the second best hub for cell and gene therapy just behind Boston.

“The Philadelphia region is increasingly attracting new and expanding cell and gene therapy companies because it checks all the boxes, but it’s the region’s research infrastructure as defined by NIH-funded cell and gene therapy research and its large number of research institutions that give it the edge,” said Claire Marrazzo Greenwood, executive director and CEO of Council for Growth and SVP of economic competitiveness for the Chamber, in a statement then.

Companies: University of Pennsylvania

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