Affigen, a biotechnology company based in the Cortex Innovation Community that develops therapeutics targeting cell lineage-specific tumor proteins, today announced the closing of a $17 million Series A financing round led by Black Beret Life Sciences on behalf of its affiliate BBLS Immunotherapy, LLC.
“We founded Affigen to realize the promise of targeting cell-lineage specific tumor proteins with therapeutics that have direct, potent anti-tumor activity and unrivaled safety,” said Carlos F. Santos, Ph.D., CEO of Affigen. “Pioneering work conducted over the past three decades has demonstrated the profound potential of this approach, but only recently has it become feasible to develop therapeutics of this kind in a manner that is both clinically relevant and commercially viable. We look forward to working with our academic, industry and financial partners to bring this new class of therapeutics to patients with critically unmet medical needs.”
Affigen has deep ties to Washington University in St. Louis, a founding partner of Cortex. Four of the company’s team members are either alumni or former faculty. Dr. David States, Affigen’s chief medical officer, served as director of Wash U’s Center for Genetics in Medicine and of its Institute for Biomedical Computing earlier in his career. Santos received his undergraduate degree, Daniel Chen his Ph.D. in computational biology and Anatoly Tzekov his undergraduate degree in biology while also serving as a researcher — all at Wash U.
“Black Beret Life Sciences manages investments in companies and technologies with the potential to dramatically improve patient outcomes in cancer, regenerative medicine, and anti-aging,” said Marc Penn, M.D., Ph.D., FACC, CEO of Black Beret Life Sciences. “Affigen’s approach to treating currently incurable cancers aligns perfectly with our mission: we are proud to partner with the Affigen team to bring these therapeutics to cancer patients.”
Proceeds from the investment round will be used to advance the company’s lead programs through pre-clinical validation and into Phase 1 clinical studies in several hematological malignancies.
Founded in 2002 through a collaboration between Washington University in St. Louis, BJC Healthcare, the University of Missouri-St. Louis, Saint Louis University, and the Missouri Botanical Garden, Cortex is the Midwest’s leading hub of innovation and technology commercialization, serving as the anchor of St. Louis’ growing ecosystem for innovative startup programs and established companies. Cited by the Brookings Institution as a model of an urban innovation district, Cortex is home to more than 250 technology-related firms, providing a deep pool of entrepreneurial programs that support emerging technology companies and attracts established technology firms to St. Louis.
Black Beret Life Sciences is the life sciences investment management arm of the Houston-based Bosarge Family Office. The firm was established in 2014 by Dr. Ed Bosarge to organize and manage investments in potentially game-changing technologies and companies in areas related to regenerative medicine, anti-aging and immunotherapy. Black Beret Life Sciences’ portfolio of managed investments includes companies and research across an array of disease areas, including diabetes, neurodegeneration, osteoarthritis, cancer immunotherapy and various conditions related to aging. The firm is based in Houston, TX, with offices worldwide.