Life Science Today

Nested, Cellarity, Replimune, Estrella

October 11, 2022 Noah Goodson, PhD
Life Science Today
Nested, Cellarity, Replimune, Estrella
Show Notes Transcript

Biotech’s with a series A, a series C, some debt financing, and there is even a Biopharma heading for a SPAC

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Story References
Nested Therapeutics
Estrella Biopharma

About the Show
Life Science Today is your source for stories, insights, and trends across the life science industry. Expect weekly highlights about new technologies, pharmaceutical mergers and acquisitions, news about the moves of venture capital and private equity, and how the stock market responds to biotech IPOs. Life Science Today also explores trends around clinical research, including the evolving patterns that determine how drugs and therapies are developed and approved. It’s news, with a dash of perspective, focused on the life science industry. 


Welcome to Life Science Today, your source for stories, insights, and trends across the life science industry. I’m your host, Dr. Noah Goodson. This week, biotech’s with a series A, a Series C, some debt financing, and there is even a Biopharma heading for a SPAC. 


The views expressed on Life Science Today are those of the host and guests. They do not necessarily reflect the opinions of any organizations with which they are affiliated. 

Nested $125M Series A

The precision oncology startup Nested Therapeutics has raised a $90M Series A, bringing their total funds raised to $125M. The Versant Ventures backed company will utilize the funds to build out their targeted oncology program which aims to map mutational clusters, identify how those proteins could be targeted, and then design therapies for the “druggable pocket.” It’s basically another end-to-end targeted oncology platform. They do have some candidates, including a leading dual molecular glue that impacts the MAPK pathway with some preclinical evidence for CNS activity, but it’ll take a bit of time to flush this out into a clinical pipeline. There are a ton of computational/genomic/AI driven precision medicine companies. Launching during market uncertainty with a potentially challenging financial road ahead should drive them to make measured and targeting investments and hopefully push for a distinctive and clear pathway to development. It’s perhaps worth noting that in the last few years, I’ve seen very few biotech companies actualize their claims of a platform – often because the intricacies of combining any series of technologies into an actionable and functional clinical pipeline is not trivial. But a mark in Nested’s favor is they are taking the lowest hanging approval fruit of target oncology therapies giving them potential for a truncated runway if things go well.   


Cellarity $121M Series C

Cellarity has announced a $121M Series C. The Flagship sponsored biotech raised $123M back in February of 2021, and has been developing its preclinical platform behind the scenes. They have yet to push to any meaningful pipeline, and instead are raising this round on the backs of their technology development which focuses on single-cell analysis to drive drug development. Single-cell analysis including single-cell RNAsequencing and single-cell proteomics may provide new mechanisms of assessing the impact of a potential treatment across and entire cells response and not just a single measurement of change. Cellarity is utilizing single-cell RNAseq to explore the transcriptomes of cells to generate comparisons between healthy and diseased states with the hopes that looking at the expression of RNA within cells will generate predictions about what could drive them from diseased to healthy states. If this sounds like the makings of an AI + Machine Learning drug development platform, that’s because it definitely probably is one. Whether Cellarity will position themselves with these new funds as a technical enablement platform or a biotechnology company with preclinical solutions of their own is yet to be seen. The theoretical framework of their approach is absolutely sensible. Time will tell if it results in practical drug-development solutions or not. For now they’ve certainly convinced investors to keep the fires burning. 

Replimune Secures $200M in Debt Financing

The clinical stage biotechnology company Replimune has secured $200M in debt financing from Hercules Capital to cover their expenses into 2025. This non-dilutive financing provides a debt driven mechanism of driving forward their clinical pipeline without decreasing the core potential ROI for current investors. Their lead candidate RP1 is being tested for combination therapy with Libtayo and Opdivo for a number of cancers. They are fairly optimistic about the downstream outputs of the current studies and are basically looking for a financial runway to cover the clinical development costs across the next few years. The loan itself is broken down into six tranches that can be drawn down as Replimune hits key milestones. As biotech’s continue to seek bridge funding during the current market uncertainties and challenges Replimune has leveraged this debt model signaling that there is money in this market but you’ll need alternative approaches to access that capital. In their case it may not hurt that there is high confidence in their pipeline with their stock’s remaining stable on the news even as the market continues a downward trend suggesting current investors at least aren’t gun shy just yet.

Estrella Biopharma to go public through SPAC

In a rare headline, the Biopharma Estrella has opted to go public through a SPAC, raising $45M and valuing the company at just under $400M. Estrella’s lead candidate is a CD19 redirect T-cell therapy is designed to function similar to other CART therapies but with a reduced risk of cytokine release syndrome which is the single largest risk factor today in CART therapies. It should be noted that Estrella is headed by Dr. Liu, who is also the CEO Eureka Therapeutics. It’s no surprise Estrella’s platform leverages Eureka’s ARTEMIS Cell Receptor Platform – suggesting ongoing close ties between the companies, even as Estrella goes public. Regardless, the interesting fact to me is that there are still some biotech’s leveraging the SPAC model, but at a much lower dollar value and decreased frequency. 

Closing Credits

Thanks for joining me for Life Science Today, your source for stories, insights, and trends across the life science industry. Learn more at If you like what you hear, please tell a friend. Once again, I’m Dr. Noah Goodson, I’ll see you next week.