Feb 16, 2021 - Economy

Pharma platform led by former Operation Warp Speed adviser raises $250 million

pills spilling out of a bottle

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Centessa, a Cambridge, Mass.-based pharma platform formed via the merger of 10 startups backed by British biotech VC firm Medicxi, raised $250 million in Series A funding led by General Atlantic.

Why it matters: Centessa's management team boasts a pedigree that includes CEO Saurabh Saha (ex-EVP of R&D and head of translational medicine for Bristol-Myers Squibb) and chief scientific officer Moncef Slaoui (ex-chief scientific officer to Operational Warp Speed).

  • Other investors include Vida Ventures, Janus Henderson, Boxer Capital, Cormorant Asset Management, T. Rowe Price, Venrock, Wellington Management, BVF Partners, EcoR1 Capital, Franklin Templeton, Logos Capital, Samsara BioCapital and LifeSci Venture Partners.
  • The hub-and-spoke portfolio includes four clinical-stage candidates, two of which are late-stage, plus more than 10 other programs.

The bottom line: "Centessa aims to build the infrastructure of a larger drugmaker around each of its component companies, which will be run as largely autonomous subsidiaries. The unorthodox arrangement reflects the vision of Medicxi, which has advocated for a leaner, 'asset-centric' approach to developing drugs, writes BioPharma Dive.

  • "The companies Medicxi helps fund are built around just one or two medicines, or a specific disease pathway, rather than broad pipelines of experimental compounds spanning multiple areas of research."
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