SAN FRANCISCO, March 18, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Ossium Health, a therapeutics company harnessing the power of stem cell science to improve treatment for patients with blood and immune diseases, today announced the completion of its $63 million Series B funding round co-led by General Catalyst and Vivo Capital with participation from previous investors First Round Capital, Manta Ray Ventures, and XYZ Capital. The company has built a platform for recovering, banking, and transplanting bone marrow rich in adult stem cells from deceased organ donors to bring life-saving cell therapies to more patients.
The vast potential of stem cell science to improve patient outcomes has not been realized. For 60 years, transplants of adult stem cells have been used to treat patients with more than 70 blood and immune diseases. But only 5 percent of the 200,000 US patients per year diagnosed with diseases potentially treatable with stem cell therapies receive transplants. The scarcity of available cells has limited access to treatment and stymied research for decades.
Ossium is accelerating development of stem cell therapies by bringing the existing US deceased donor transplant ecosystem into the fight against blood cancers, inflammatory bowel disease, organ rejection, and other life-threatening diseases where stem cell science holds the promise of a cure. The company has built a sprawling national network of partnerships with the organ procurement organizations (OPOs) responsible for recovering organs from nearly half the US population. Ossium wants to make every organ donor a bone marrow donor, and the adult stem cell populations in bone marrow are key to the company’s plan to end immunosuppression and expand access to organ transplants.
Ossium’s research and business partnerships to date are just the first steps toward its vision of transforming the global healthcare system into a tool for proactively preserving health rather than retroactively treating disease. “Humanity’s deepening understanding of biology is driving a revolution in bioengineering that parallels the industrial revolutions that followed the birth of modern physics and chemistry,” said Ossium Co-Founder and CEO, Kevin Caldwell. “Ossium is using stem cell science to create a new paradigm for medicine in which the building blocks of life are the raw materials of therapeutics. The future of healthcare is in preserving health, not treating symptoms. Our industrialized platform for cell therapies will define the emerging era of regenerative medicine.”
Ossium’s $63M Series B is the latest financing for the five-year-old company which has raised a total of $74M. Ossium’s research has also been supported by more than $6M in NIH grants, bringing the company’s total resources to more than $80M. The funds will support an initial suite of clinical trials to use donor-matched hematopoietic stem cells to re-educate the immune systems of organ recipients to accept donor organs, to deploy the anti-inflammatory properties of mesenchymal stem cells to promote healing in patients with fistulizing Crohn’s disease, and to reset the malignant immune systems of hard to match blood cancer patients using bone marrow transplants from organ donors. Each clinical study leverages the company’s unique deceased donor adult stem cell banking platform. The company has proprietary technology for processing adult stem cells from the vast US organ donor population.
“From my first conversation with Kevin and his team, I knew that Ossium had the potential to transform the transplant landscape and that LifeGift needed to get involved,” said Kevin Myer, CEO of Houston-based LifeGift, one of the nation’s largest organ procurement organizations. “Our partnership with Ossium gives us a groundbreaking opportunity to extend the gift of organ and tissue donation into new and life-saving applications like blood cancer treatment.”
“Ossium is taking an innovative and impactful approach to improving access to treatment for blood cancer patients while also unlocking powerful new uses for bone marrow transplants,” said Andrew D. Goldberg, MD, Partner on the Innovation team at Vivo Capital. “At Vivo, we leverage our extensive scientific, clinical, and operating experience to help healthcare companies develop therapeutics, commercialize, and scale. We are inspired by what Kevin and his team have accomplished and look forward to working with them during this new and exciting period of growth.”
“Right now, more than a quarter of all people who need a bone marrow transplant fail to find a match. What Ossium is building isn’t just a new methodology for procuring the lifesaving therapeutics like bone marrow and stem cells. It’s also a chance to build both resilience and equity into an area of healthcare that has the potential to save thousands of lives every year,” said Hemant Taneja, managing partner, General Catalyst.
“Ossium combines a deeply experienced team with a demonstrated ability to build crucial transplant community partnerships,” said Bill Trenchard, Managing Partner at First Round Capital. “But what really set Ossium apart for First Round is the company’s mission to improve human health using a bold, platform-based model for developing powerful new stem cell therapies.”
“We’re proud to support Ossium’s disruptive approach to building the world’s first deceased donor bone marrow bank,” said Lawrence Barclay, Managing Partner of Manta Ray Ventures. “Ossium’s vision of using donor bone marrow cell infusions to enable immunosuppression free transplants could reshape how organ transplants are done worldwide and drive dramatically improved outcomes for patients.”
About Ossium Health
Ossium Health is a therapeutics company that leverages its unique deceased donor bone marrow banking platform to develop stem cell therapies for patients with life-threatening blood and immune diseases. Founded in 2016, the company is run by its Co-Founder, President & CEO Kevin Caldwell, and its Co-Founder, EVP & Chief Science Officer Erik Woods. The company’s mission is “to deploy cellular therapeutics and bioengineering to produce lasting gains in the health, vitality, and longevity of human beings.” Ossium is a Public Benefit Corporation. Learn more about Ossium at www.ossiumhealth.com.
LifeGift offers hope to the thousands of people in Texas and beyond who need lifesaving organ transplants, and to countless others who need lifesaving tissue transplants. As the designated organ procurement organization (OPO) for North, Southeast and West Texas, LifeGift partners with more than 200 hospitals across 109 counties. Established in 1987 as Gulf Coast Independent Organ Procurement Organization, LifeGift is approved by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and accredited by the Association of Organ Procurement Organizations (AOPO) and the American Association of Tissue Banks (AATB).
About General Catalyst
General Catalyst is a venture capital firm that invests in powerful, positive change that endures — for our entrepreneurs, our investors, our people, and society. We support founders with a long-term view who challenge the status quo, partnering with them from seed to growth stage and beyond to build companies that withstand the test of time. With offices in San Francisco, Palo Alto, New York City, and Boston, the firm has helped support the growth of businesses such as: Airbnb, Deliveroo, Guild, Gusto, Hubspot, Illumio, Livongo, Oscar, Snap, Stripe, and Warby Parker. For more: www.generalcatalyst.com.
About Vivo Capital
Founded in 1996, Vivo Capital is a leading global healthcare investment firm with a diverse, multi-fund investment platform in venture capital, growth equity, buyout, and public equities. The Firm has approximately $4.3 billion in assets under management and has invested in over 280 public and private companies worldwide. Headquartered in Palo Alto, California, the Vivo team consists of more than 50 multi-disciplinary professionals. Vivo invests broadly in healthcare across all fund strategies, including biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, medical devices, and healthcare services, with a focus on the largest healthcare markets globally.
About First Round Capital
First Round is an early-stage venture capital firm that helps startups like Notion, Roblox, Uber, and Square tackle company building firsts. Whether it’s pre-seed, seed or Series A, the First Round team is focused on building the world’s best product for founders who are just getting started. From tailored programs and a vibrant community, to custom-built software and content that serves up unique company building advice, the firm connects early teams with the expertise and resources they need to make their first hires, build their first product and find their first customers. Learn more at firstround.com.
About Manta Ray Ventures
Manta Ray is an early stage venture capital fund backing mission-driven founders addressing significant global challenges through applying leading edge technologies. The firm provides flexible and patient capital, leveraging our time, resources and networks as far as possible to support our portfolio companies. Learn more at https://mantaray.vc/.