Indian biotech start-up Immuneel Therapeutics (Immuneel) said Tuesday it has successfully raised close to $15 million in a Series A financing round, co-led by Eight Roads Ventures, True North Fund VI LLP and F-Prime Capital, along-with contributions from other existing investors.

These funds will enable the company to advance its development pipeline and scale, Immuneel said in a statement.

“Our goal is to provide patients in India with potentially transformative therapies and enable affordable access to CAR-T and other complex therapies. As we advance our lead programs, this financing will also allow us to continue building a committed and quality enterprise for global innovators to consider partnering with us to enable access for patients in the region,” said Kush M Parmar, Co-Founder of Immuneel.

The company which focused on creating access to Chimeric Antigen Receptor T cell therapy (CAR-T) and other cellular immunotherapies for the management and treatment of cancers, has also begun patient dosing in a CAR-T trial named “IMAGINE”.

This phase II trial is the first industry sponsored CAR-T trial in India and is now actively enrolling patients at Narayana Hrudayalaya, Bengaluru.

“Today, we are extremely proud to be able to demonstrate our focus on scientific rigor as well as clinical and manufacturing excellence by bringing CAR-T therapy to the clinic through our IMAGINE trial. This trial marks an important step forward for us in delivering transformational cell-based immunotherapies to patients, truly enabling our patients with potential cure,

“IMAGINE opens a world of possibilities. With our successful Series A funding, we are excited to continue building our innovation and clinical delivery engine with our investors, given their excellent track record, particularly in global healthcare and innovation.” said Dr. Arun Anand, Director and Chief Operating Officer of Immuneel.

According to the statement, CAR-T therapies, previously not available in India, have shown promising results for patients who have exhausted all other means of treatment in a range of blood cancers. These therapies are available internationally at $350,000+ per dose, making the IMAGINE trial the first step towards bringing affordable treatments with global quality and clinical data to patients in India.

The IMAGINE trial is funded by Immuneel and will include up to 24 pediatric and adult cancer patients. Immuneel has exclusive rights to ARI-0001/IMN-003A (a CD-19 CAR-T cell therapy) from Hospital Clínic de Barcelona and Institut d’Investigacions Biomèdiques August Pi i Sunyer in Spain to develop, manufacture and commercialize in India via technology transfer. ARI-0001 is approved by the Spanish Drug Agency (AEMPS) and the data available compares very favorably with United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved products.

“This milestone is significant in building an eco-system to accelerate and make cell therapies accessible to patients in India, in line with global standards at affordable and disruptive costs. Personalized cell therapies are in their nascency the world over and we have an opportunity to differentiate through partnerships and cutting-edge innovation,” said Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, Co-Founder and Director of Immuneel.

Dr. Siddhartha Mukherjee, Co-Founder and Director of Immuneel added: “This trial will demonstrate the success of cutting-edge breakthrough CAR-T cell therapy in cancer treatment and give hope to many patients in need. Now cancer patients in India can look forward to having access to CAR-T cell therapy manufactured in India which has revolutionized cancer treatment globally.”

Founded in 2019 Immuneel is a pioneering clinical stage start-up company leading the change in cell and gene therapies and personalized immunotherapy for patients in India.

Headquartered in Bengaluru, Karnataka, India, Immuneel is a research-led, fully integrated cell and gene therapies company committed to bringing breakthrough cancer treatments to India, affordably and build a portfolio of next generation cell therapies.

With a focus on maintaining global standards, the company is developing cutting edge programs, delivered through partnerships with leading hospitals. In 2021, the company had established the first cGMP-approved integrated cell therapy development and manufacturing facility at the Mazumdar-Shaw Cancer Centre at Narayana Health City (Bengaluru).

India’s LeadSquared secures $153M from WestBridge Capital, turns unicorn