NIH Preparing to License CAR Treatment Patents to Investors Behind Sovaldi and Soliris

In a recent Federal Register notice, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has announced its intent to grant an exclusive patent license on chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) therapies for the treatment of certain cancers to ElevateBio, a company located in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

The company has no web page, a Twitter account created in April 2018 with no posts and two followers, and no SEC filings. When asked, the NIH refused to provide the names of key staff, board members, or investors.

We have gathered some information about the company. According to the Massachusetts business entity registry, ElevateBio is an LLC, first organized in November 2017 in Delaware, and registered in Massachusetts on June 15, 2018. The Massachusetts filling listed four managers: Ansbert Gadicke, David Hallal, Morana Jovan-Embiricos, and Vikas Sinha. Below are a few notes on each manager.

Ansbert Gadicke

Dr. Ansbert Gadicke co-founded MPM Capital, a healthcare investment firm that invests in companies that develop new therapeutics, particularly for oncology. He was the lead investor and served on the board of BioMarin Pharmaceuticals, Idenix Pharmaceuticals (acquired by Merck & Co.), Radius Health and Mitobridge (acquired by Astellas), and most notably, Pharmasset, which developed the hepatitis C virus (HCV) treatment Sovaldi before being bought by Gilead Sciences for $11.2 billion.

David Hallal

David Hallal is an executive partner at Dr. Gadicke’s MPM Capital. Prior to joining the investment firm, he was CEO of Alexion Pharmaceuticals which developed Soliris, one of the most expensive drugs on the market.1 Soliris is classified as an orphan drug, and treats paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria (PNH) and atypical hemolytic uremic syndrome (aHUS). As of May 2017, it was typically priced from $500,000 to $700,000 per year.

Morana Jovan-Embiricos

Dr. Morana Jovan-Embiricos previously served as as a Partner at MPM Capital, before founding F2 Ventures and F3 Ventures, biotech venture capital funds. She has led and managed a series of biotech investment funds in the US and in Europe. Dr. Jovan-Embiricos, along with Dr. Gadicke, serve as a members of the Board of Directors of TCR2 Therapeutics, an immuno-oncology company that focuses on T cell receptor-based cellular therapies.

Vikas Sinha

Vikas Sinha is also an executive partner at MPM Capital, and previously worked alongside David Hallal, as CFO at Alexion Pharmaceuticals. He has also served in many roles at Bayer, including as Vice President and CFO of Bayer Pharmaceuticals in the US, and Vice President and CFO of Bayer Yakuhin in Japan.

Considering the background of ElevateBIO’s founders, the NIH can expect the price for the new CAR T treatment to be aggressive, unless the NIH includes provisions in the license to restrain the prices.