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Bellicum Pharma Lands $20M in Series B Finance Round

Loose bills of multiple denominations (borman818)Bellicum Pharmaceuticals Inc. in Houston, Texas says today it has raised $20 million in series B financing, the second round of investment after initial start-up. The company develops vaccines designed to attack specific disease-producing cells, including those causing life-threatening disorders such as cancer.

The privately-held Bellicum says current and new investors contributed to this investment round. While all participants were not disclosed, the company says new investors James Brown, AVG Ventures LP, and Dennis Stone M.D., and Remeditex Ventures will join the company’s board of directors.

Bellicum’s Web site says it had previously raised $11.5 million from a small group of angel investor and the Texas Emerging Technology Fund. The company also received a $5.7 million grant last year from the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas.

The new funding is expected to support Bellicum’s two lead programs through phase 2 clinical trials of efficacy and safety in 2012. One of its DeCIDe vaccines known as BPX-101, contains matured, prostate cancer antigen-expressing dendritic cells, modified to allow activation in the body. The small molecule drug AP1903 acts as a trigger to activate the dendritic cells and induce an anti-cancer immune response. The company plans to test the vaccine in a phase 2 trial to treat patients with metastatic castrate resistant prostate cancer.

Bellicum plans as well a phase 2 clinical trial of a T cell infusion product for patients undergoing blood stem cell transplants. The company’s CaspaCIDe product is designed to treat graft-versus-host disease, a serious and sometime fatal transplant complication. A recent proof-of-concept study of CaspaCIDe technology in five patients with acute leukemia published in the New England Journal of Medicine showed complete reversal of the disease within 30 minutes.

The new funds will be available to Bellicum in two equal parts, with $10 million paid immediately. The balance will be paid upon initiation of the next phase of clinical trials for the two lead products, expected in the third quarter of 2012.

Read more: Devices, Industrial Biotech Lead 2012 Life Science Funding

Photo: borman818/Flickr

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