12:09 PM
 | 
Nov 08, 2018
 |  BC Extra  |  Financial News

Cabaletta spins out of Penn with CAR T autoimmune therapy, $38M series A

Editor's Note: This article was updated on Nov 08, 2018 at 3:36 PM PST

University of Pennsylvania spinout Cabaletta Bio Inc. (Radnor, Pa.) emerged from stealth with an untranched $38 million series A to develop CAR T therapies for B cell-mediated autoimmune diseases.

Cabaletta's co-founders include Michael Milone, an associate professor of pathology at Penn and co-inventor of CAR T therapy Kymriah tisagenlecleucel from Novartis AG (NYSE:NVS; SIX:NOVN); Aimee Payne, an associate professor of dermatology at Penn; and Steven Nichtberger, who is also the company's chairman and CEO.

5AM Ventures led the financing, with participation by existing investors Adage Capital Management, the university and a third undisclosed investor.

Cabaletta has an exclusive, global license from the university for chimeric autoantigen receptor (CAAR) T cell technology developed in Payne's lab. Nichtberger declined to disclose the financial terms of the licensing deal.

The company said CAAR T cells are similar to CAR T cells, but instead of targeting CD19 they target the B cell receptors of self-reactive B cells by expressing the autoantigen on the cell surface.

Cabaletta's lead product, DSG3-CAART, is in preclinical development to treat the skin-blistering autoimmune disease pemphigus vulgaris. A study led by Payne and published in 2016 in Science showed that DSG3-CAART, which targets B cells that produce antibodies against desmoglein 3 (DSG3), killed self-reactive B cells and alleviated symptoms in models of the disease (see "A New Route for CARs").

Nichtberger told BioCentury the funds are sufficient for the company to complete a first-in-human trial of DSG3-CAART. He expects Cabaletta to submit an IND for DSG3-CAART in 2H19.

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