Editor: Max Gelman
Though it may seem like Shoreline Biosciences is rapidly gaining momentum with a flurry of deals — and, now, a new funding round — Kleanthis Xanthopoulos doesn’t feel he’s in a rush.
The biotech’s chief executive put the bow on a $140 million Series B on Tuesday, as Shoreline continues a streak of wheeling and dealing that’s seen it partner with Gilead’s Kite and BeiGene these last few months. And despite the new raise technically being a crossover round with Ally Bridge Group leading the way, Xanthopoulos is taking his time in prepping a public offering.
“It’s only smart for us to be ready for an IPO, but we have so much capital we can pick the right timing,” Xanthopoulos told Endpoints News. “Practically, we’re going to be ready to become a public company. When the time comes, we’ll be set, but it’s good to have that luxury.”
Driving all the interest are Shoreline’s off-the-shelf cancer therapies, including a particular focus on iPSC NK cells and macrophages for various tumors. Partnered with Dan Kaufman’s lab out of UC-San Diego, Shoreline has built a war chest of $300 million to advance such treatments, build out its manufacturing capabilities and sign its high-profile collaborations.
Manufacturing specifically has a special place in Shoreline’s plans, as Xanthopoulos eventually hopes the company will be able to create NK cell therapies that will be used in the community setting. It’s a pitch that’s driven significant investment toward the field as a whole, with companies like Artiva gaining backing from blue-chip investors and Merck.
But Shoreline’s focus on pluripotent stem cells — compared to Artiva’s donor cell approach — gives it a key differentiating factor, Xanthopoulos said. The two have very different manufacturing processes and the CEO believes iPSC NK cells will prove safer and more cost-effective in the long run.
“We incorporated AI, automation to completely rethink how we’re going to create the manufacturing,” he said. “We’ve recruited people from the electronic chip manufacturing industry to see how it worked there. A large portion of the raise is earmarked to build that facility.”
The company is now sitting on 10 pipeline programs largely aimed at a variety of hematological and solid tumors. Xanthopoulos said there are nine candidates involving NK cells, including two in house, three from the Kite partnership and four being co-developed with BeiGene. The last is Shoreline’s in-house macrophage program, which is slightly behind the rest, the CEO said.
Xanthopoulos likes to think of it as not just Shoreline’s pipeline, however, but the pipelines of three different companies coming together. Moving forward, Shoreline is getting ready to send its first IND for the lead in-house NK cell therapy by the end of 2022, with plans to submit “one or two” INDs every year after that, Xanthopoulos said.
And once that’s accomplished, maybe the IPO will come. But Xanthopoulos isn’t counting his cell therapies before they come home to roost.
“We want to see [our therapies] as broadly available as antibodies,” he said. “It should be that simple given how safe the NK cells have proven to be in the clinic.”