BioPharma

Cell-therapy startup raises $33.5M from Canaan, Bill Maris’s Section 32 and others

The San Francisco startup has a cloud-based platform to prevent supply chain mistakes in personalized cell and gene therapy where patients’ re-engineered cells need to be delivered back to the correct individual.

 

With a platform promising protection against cell-based therapy supply-chain missteps, Vineti has completed a $33.5 million Series B infusion. Along with the funding, led by Canaan Partners and DFJ, Vineti’s getting two new board members: Nina Kjellson, general partner at Canaan Partners, and Michael Pellini, managing partner at Section 32, which is participating in the funding.

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Section 32 is the San Diego-based venture capital firm that that Bill Maris, the former CEO of Google Ventures founder. Pellini joined in December while continuing to be the chairman of  Foundation Medicine.

It was a quick sell from his perspective.

“This is one of those ideas that when I heard it, it resonated in 30 seconds,” he said in a phone interview. “Within the first sentence or two, I thought, ‘This company is focused on doing something very important.”

The focus is a cloud-based software platform that wraps quality control, tracking, compliance and fast turnaround into a customizable workflow package for personalized cell and gene therapy products. Imagine what could occur if one patient’s own re-engineered cells were introduced back into someone else’s body.

Vineti incubated within GE Ventures but spun out with a $13.75 million Series A investment in 2017 and began its first biotech partnership with Kite Pharma, now part of Gilead Sciences.

With the promise of taking personalized cell-based therapy from patient to product and back to patient without a misstep, the San Francisco startup is positioning its product as the orchestra conductor for all sectors contributing to the process, for any company that needs its software solution.

Many companies will need it, Pellini predicted, pointing to the burgeoning cell- and gene-based therapy areas, along with the potential for personalized vaccines.

“The number of opportunities where there could be a logistical error in the process is significant, and why should every biotech and every pharmaceutical company build their own logistic infrastructure?” he asked. “This is an opportunity for Vineti to become the UPS, the logistics expert of the cell-based therapy world.”

Attend MedCity CONVERGE where both Amy DuRoss, CEO of Vineti and Michael Pellini, Partner, Section 32 and Chairman, Foundation Medicine will be speaking. Use promo code MCN50 to save $50. Register now.

Vineti is not the only company in the cell therapy supply-chain space. Cardiff, Wales-based TrakCel offers supply chain management for autologous and allogeneic therapies. And then there is World Courier, a health logistics and pharmaceutical supply chain firm and an AmerisourceBergen company.

For Vineti, with this round of funding, the world is the next step, said CEO Amy DuRoss.

“It’s a huge point that we’re already in Europe and we will be in Asia this year as well,” she said.

A chunk of this round of funding is going straight back into R&D to refine and enhance the modules offered on the platform. She noted that in addition to supply chain logistics, the company is being “increasingly pulled into the additional workflow around reimbursement,”along with how patients are monitored and followed up, DuRoss explained.

The entry points aren’t all with commercialized therapies, she noted. “Even in phase one, many of the trial protocols we’re seeing are global,” she said. “[The companies running the phase I trials] are not content to start with one geography and expand there.”

With all the points of transfer across customs and shipping in these cross-regional projects, she said, the kind of traceability that the Vineti platform offers is key because “you can’t have a single geography in this field.”

The geography will include some areas that conventionally are overlooked, according to DuRoss. “This gets back to the mission of our business (that) we absolutely seek to democratize access to these therapies for the broader world,” she said. “It’s a really important point and it gets forgotten: we get sort of western-focused, and there’s a lot more world out there.”

Photo: ipopba, Getty Images