ElevateBio cooks up $401m round, garnished with a Novo deal


Cell and gene therapy specialist ElevateBio has taken the total fundraising since it launched five years ago to around $1.25 billion, with its latest $401 million round the largest private fundraise for a biotech so far this year.

That’s impressive in its own right in the current financial climate, but the round also includes a contribution from Novo Nordisk, tied to a gene therapy partnership with ElevateBio’s Life Edit Therapeutics subsidiary that is potentially worth up to $2.3 billion.

The Series D was led by AyurMaya Capital Management Fund, a VC fund managed by Matrix Capital Management, and joined by a string of new and existing investors. Proceeds will be used to scale up its gene-editing, stem cell, and manufacturing operations.

First set up in 2017, ElevateBio came out of stealth mode two years later with $150 million in initial funding and former Alexion chief executive David Hallal at the helm, with an ambition to build companies across the cell and gene therapy category, with one subsidiary (BaseCamp) providing R&D, process, and development and manufacturing support for the rest, as well as external clients.

The aim is to develop ElevateBio into a one-stop-shop for technologies used for the research, development, and production of cell and gene therapies, according to Hallal, who noted that the cash injection will also help expand its geographic presence.

Life Edit was acquired by ElevateBio in 2021, bringing in its expertise with base-editing drugs - a method of gene editing that converts one nucleotide base into another without cutting both strands of DNA, as occurs with other technologies like CRISPR.

The alliance with Novo Nordisk covers several unnamed targets across the rare and cardiovascular diseases spectrum. It also includes an undisclosed upfront payment in the biotech, and Novo Nordisk will be responsible for all R&D costs.

Last month, Life Edit reported preclinical results showing the potential of its base-editing approach to target and correct the gene that is mutated in Huntington’s disease. The company has said its technology has the potential to be used to make “any edit, anywhere” in the genome.

It’s the second partnership for Life Edit this year, coming after an agreement with Moderna to develop in vivo mRNA gene editing candidates for a “select set” of disease targets. The financial terms of that deal have not been disclosed.

ElevateBio also chalked up one of the largest private biotech rounds of 2021 with its Series C, raising $525 million in the midst of a supercharged financing year for the sector.