Rapid growth and a flurry of achievements have been the hallmarks of the region’s cell & gene therapy, gene editing, and connected health companies.
First, Greater Philadelphia celebrated another FDA approval of a therapy, Zolgensma®, with origins in our research community. This gene therapy developed by Novartis for children under 2 with spinal muscular atrophy is based on a delivery vehicle discovered by Dr. James Wilson and his team at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. This approval joined the list of three other FDA cell and gene therapy approvals with origins in the region.
Additionally, many of the region’s innovative cell and gene therapy and connected health companies successfully raised capital in 2019. Financing could be found for companies at varying stages, ranging from $5 million for Wistar spinout Virion Therapeutics, to $110 million for Passage Bio’s Series B, and a $74.8 million IPO for Cabaletta Bio Inc. (NASDAQ: CABA), which had also raised $50 million in a Series B in January of this year. In connected health, Philadelphia-based HealthVerity, a data-focused digital health group, raised $25 million in a Series C round in April, bringing its total venture capital funding to $42.3 million. These are just a few examples. Check out the transactions page on the website of our partner PhillyBio for a more comprehensive list.
In terms of mergers, Roche completed a $4.3B purchase of Spark Therapeutics on December 17. In July, Philadelphia-based health care payments tech firm InstaMed announced that it was acquired by J.P. Morgan Chase in a deal worth a reported $500 million, joining Spark on the list of largest exits in recent history for the region’s life science and tech industries.
A number of companies also chose to call Greater Philadelphia home this year, joining the more than 50 cell and gene therapy and connected health development companies already based in the region.
In February, Amicus Therapeutics announced plans to open a Global Research and Gene Therapy Center in uCity Square. A few short months later, in Q2, California-based Iovance Biotherapeutics announced plans to build a 136,000-square-foot, $75 million manufacturing facility in Philadelphia, joining other innovative biotech companies at the Navy Yard. Anpac Bio, another California-based biotech company, also selected Greater Philadelphia as its next U.S. home, announcing a second clinical laboratory site and new U.S. corporate headquarters at Spring House Innovation Park. Anpac Bio cited the region’s rich life sciences ecosystem and supportive start-up environment as key factors in the decision – a testament to Greater Philadelphia’s growing reputation as the hub of innovation in cell and gene therapy.