Raises additional $30 million and adds new investors to syndicate; Expands management team with key clinical drug discovery and development appointments
South San Francisco, CA and Seattle, WA — September 30, 2020 — Sonoma Biotherapeutics, a privately held company developing regulatory T-cell (Treg) therapies for autoimmune and degenerative diseases, announced that it has raised an additional $30 million from investors in its Series A financing, bringing the total to $70 million. Investors participating in the round include Lyell Immunopharma, ARCH Venture Partners, 8VC, LifeForce Capital, Lilly Asia Ventures Biosciences, Octagon Capital, Alexandria Venture Investments, the JDRF T1D Fund and additional undisclosed investors.
Sonoma also announced three new appointments to the senior management team: Leonard Dragone, M.D., Ph.D., joins as chief medical officer; Sejal Hall, Ph.D., joins as vice president of portfolio, program and alliance management; and Susan Lacy, Ph.D., joins as vice president of discovery. They join an experienced team steeped in next-generation research, development and manufacturing capabilities in immunology, cell therapy and genetic engineering.
“We have made significant progress in a short amount of time in our mission to move adoptive cell therapy beyond cancer and into other disease areas, including autoimmunity and neuroinflammation,” said Co-Founder and CEO Jeffrey Bluestone, Ph.D. “Our progress in applying cell therapy to reprogram the immune system to alter the course of disease has attracted the attention and the vision of talented scientists and drug developers, as well as proven investors.”
- Leonard (Lenny) Dragone, M.D., Ph.D., has joined Sonoma as chief medical officer. Lenny joins from Janssen Biopharma, where he served as vice president for early clinical development in infectious diseases. Lenny has extensive leadership experience across multiple cross-functional project teams, driving development in a wide range of disease indications. Prior to Janssen, he served as Merck’s therapeutic area lead for autoimmunity, inflammation and ophthalmology, and prior to that worked in multiple autoimmune indications at Genentech.
- Sejal Hall, Ph.D., has joined Sonoma as vice president, program, portfolio and alliance management. Sejal joins Sonoma from Audentes Therapeutics, where she was executive director, research operations and program management. Prior to that, she held roles in program management, alliance management and business development at Denali Therapeutics, iPierian and Novartis. Sejal has extensive experience in managing global cross-functional project teams and partnerships, from research through early clinical development across a range of modalities and disease indications in neuroscience, immunology, hematology and rare disease.
- Susan Lacy, Ph.D., has joined Sonoma as vice president of discovery. Susan joins from AbbVie (and previously Abbott), where during her 20-year tenure she held positions including director, immuno-oncology discovery and project director, immunology drug discovery. Susan generated and delivered numerous innovative drug candidates with complete preclinical data and Investigational New Drug (IND) submission packages to clinical development through her leadership within highly matrixed, multi-disciplinary teams. She established and led several teams in immunology and oncology focused on technology, pathway biology and target identification.
“This expansion of the Sonoma team and the Series A financing will enable Jeff and the rest of the organization to continue their great progress,” said Dr. Rick Klausner, executive chairman of Lyell Immunopharma and chair of the Sonoma Biotherapeutics board of directors. “They are well poised to drive the next generation of cell therapy forward to advance treatments and potentially cures for patients with significant unmet medical need.”
About Treg Cell Therapy
The goal of Treg therapy is to restore a state of self-tolerance by halting harmful inflammatory responses in autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease and multiple sclerosis, along with degenerative diseases such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and Alzheimer’s. Over 50 million Americans currently live with an autoimmune disease, and millions more with some form of degenerative disease. For many, existing therapies are ineffective at controlling their disease.
Treg cells have a clear role in many of these conditions. These cells’ natural ability to migrate to inflamed tissues and control harmful immune responses makes them ideal for treating a range of conditions. In addition, the ability to engineer Treg cells to target specific disease-causing antigens reduces the potential for unwanted systemic effects. The role of Treg cells in tissue maintenance and repair offers the potential for effective, durable and restorative treatments.
About Sonoma Biotherapeutics
Sonoma Biotherapeutics is a South San Francisco and Seattle-based company leading the development of adoptive Treg therapies cell for autoimmune and degenerative diseases. Using next generation genome editing and target-specific cell therapy, Sonoma is focused on developing its best-in-class platform across the entire spectrum of Treg cell therapeutic capabilities. Founded by pioneers in Treg biology and cell therapy, the company brings together leading expertise and proprietary methodologies for the discovery and development of disease modifying and curative therapies. More information at www.sonomabio.com.