Opportunities for cell and gene therapy companies to partner with early investors

By Samantha Black, PhD, ScienceBoard editor in chief
October 28, 2021

Cell and gene therapy firms are some of the hottest investment opportunities currently in the market, according to Chris Garabedian, CEO of Xontogeny and the portfolio manager of the Perceptive Xontogeny Venture (PXV) Fund. Garabedian participated in the "What Cell & Gene Therapy Investors Are Looking for Now" panel discussion at the Cell & Gene Meeting on the Mesa. Garabedian recently spoke with ScienceBoard.net about his investment strategy.

Xontogeny is a company accelerator and seed investment fund, Garabedian explained. It was started to partner with early-stage biotechs (scientific founders, entrepreneurs, and first-time CEOs) with good drug development experience. Xontogeny often provides "first money in" and helps establish the foundation that startups can use to advance toward clinical development.

"We play a collaborative partnership role, to not only make sure that the money is used wisely and is used to advance the program, but that the decisions made around that program are the right ones," Garabedian said.

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Xontogeny has an in-house team that provides oversight and input into development. The overall goal is to make companies more "investable" and de-risk them so they can bring in higher-value investments. Garabedian said that Xontogeny differs from other investment firms that often bring in new teams of executives. He believes that scientific entrepreneurs and founders bring more passion and creativity and are essential to the success of a company.

Through its partnership with Xontogeny, the PXV Fund can lead investments from seed funding through series A and beyond, Garabedian said. Effectively, Xontogeny acts as the venture arm of Perceptive Advisors.

"It's a hard activity to do good biotech. It's even harder to do good biotech in cell and gene therapy," Garabedian said.

Xontogeny participates in quite a few deals in the cell and gene therapy space. There are hundreds of cell and gene therapy programs under development with relatively few approval successes, Garabedian stated. Yet, the talent pool is still relatively nascent.

Furthermore, products in the cell and gene industry require a lot of upfront capital investments. Due to the novel nature of many products in the space, teams often must work closely with regulators to properly navigate the proper regulatory pathways. Xontogeny and Perceptive Advisors help guide early programs because there is a lot that can go wrong.

Despite all the challenges in the industry, "it's one of the most exciting times to be in the life sciences space," Garabedian added.

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Last Updated om 7/20/2022 1:13:57 PM