Immunotherapy startup Umoja lands $210M, less than a year after raising $53M

Andy Scharenberg, CEO of United Biopharma. (Unit photo)

New financing: Just seven months after announcing a $53 million Series A round, Umoja Biopharma has raised an additional $210 million in a Series B round. The company develops immunotherapy treatments for blood and organ tumors in adult and pediatric patients.

Launched in 2019, Umoja is working to commercialize technology developed at Seattle Children’s Research Institute and Purdue University. The company is headquartered in Seattle and has a manufacturing facility in Boulder, Colorado. The name comes from a Swahili word for unity.

The science: Umoja is developing a versatile technology that harnesses a patient’s immune response to attack cancer cells. The company states that its approach, which generates cancer-fighting T cells in vivo or in a person’s body, has advantages over treatments developed in vitro. The strategy also uses a cancer cell tagging system.

The new funding will help develop treatments for clinical trials. That includes two programs, one using tumor tagging technology for so-called folate receptor-expressing solid tumors, and another treatment for hematologic cancers.

Co-founders: The Umoja team consists of a selection of experienced biotech researchers and executives.

CEO Dr. Andy Scharenberg previously co-founded Pregenen and Generation Bio, and is a professor of pediatrics and immunology at the University of Washington. Scharenberg is also a principal investigator at Seattle Children’s Hospital. dr. Michael Jensen, co-chair of Umoja’s scientific advisory board, is vice president of Seattle Children’s Therapeutics, a new effort from Seattle Children’s Hospital to expand its existing research efforts.
Philip Low, co-chair of Umoja’s scientific advisory board, is a Purdue professor who previously co-founded MorphImmune, Eradivir, Endocyte, and other companies. Chief Technology Officer Ryan Crisman is a veteran of ZymoGenetics, Juno Therapeutics and Gates Biomanufacturing Facility.

Financing: The round was co-led by SoftBank Vision Fund 2 and Cormorant Asset Management. New investors included RTW Investments, LP, Temasek, Presight Capital, Caas Capital and SVB Leerink. Funds also came from existing investors: MPM Capital, DCVC Bio, Qiming Venture Partners USA, Casdin Capital, The Emerson Collective and Alexandria Venture Investments.

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