The financing from Blackstone will support Autolus’ clinical development of obe-cel for relapsed / refractory adult ALL and its pre-approval activities


Blackstone to invest up to $250m in Autolus. (Credit: S K from Pixabay.)

Blackstone Life Sciences is set to invest up to $250m in Autolus Therapeutics to support the development of its potential CD19 CAR T cell therapy obecabtagene autoleucel (obe-cel).

The two companies have reached a strategic collaboration and financing agreement.

Under the terms of the agreement, funds managed by Blackstone will help Autolus advance the development of obe-cel, along with other therapies to treat B-cell malignancies.

Of the total investment, Blackstone will provide $150m in product financing to fund the development and commercialisation of obe-cel.

Autolus will receive $50m upon closing of the transaction, and the remaining on achieving certain development and regulatory milestones.

Also, the company has agreed to buy Autolus’ American Depositary Shares (ADS) worth $100m in a private placement, subject to customary closing conditions.

As part of the collaboration, Blackstone obtains the right to nominate a member to the Autolus board of directors.

Blackstone Life Sciences senior managing director Nicholas Simon said: “We are excited to collaborate with Autolus in support of their innovative platform pursuing safer, more durable, therapies with the potential to be lifesaving options for patients with ALL and beyond.

“We see a significant opportunity to improve the outlook for cancer patients who are facing a devastating course of their disease.

“This investment continues to build on our conviction is not just innovative cell and gene therapies, but also supporting innovation in the United Kingdom and Europe broadly.”

Blackstone said that the transaction underlines its commitment to the UK economy where it has invested more than $18bn, and create more than 27,000 direct jobs.

Autolus is a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company engaged in developing next-generation T cell therapies for the treatment of cancer.

The company has recently announced its plans to build a new 70,000ft2 facility in Stevenage, UK, dedicated to the manufacturing of obe-cel.

Obe-cel is an investigational CD19 CAR T cell therapy designed to minimise the over-activation of the programmed T cells and reduce toxicity.

The therapy is currently being studied in a Phase 1b/2 FELIX clinical trial for the treatment of adults with ALL, and Phase 1 study in B-NHL.

Moelis & Company served as a financial advisor and Cooley and Cooley (UK) as legal advisor to Autolus, while Goodwin Procter served as legal advisor to Blackstone on the transaction.

Autolus chief executive officer Christian Itin said: “We welcome Blackstone Life Sciences to join our drive to change the outlook for leukaemia and lymphoma patients, notably those with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia.

“Blackstone’s investment and expertise will support the development and preparation for commercialisation of obe-cel and put the program and the company on a strong financial footing as we are approaching the read-out from the potentially pivotal FELIX clinical trial during the course of 2022.”

Earlier this year, Autolus signed a licence agreement with Moderna for the development and marketing of mRNA therapeutics for up to four immuno-oncology targets.