appia bio

The next wave of cancer treatments uses the body's own immune system rather than chemotherapy or radiation to kill cancer cells. Treatments are being developed by two Southern California pharma companies.

Last week, one of the biggest players in cell therapy, Kite Pharma, announced it will work with the cancer startup Appia Bio to create breakthrough drugs.

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Cell therapy has taken the oncology world by storm.

For cancer patients who have tried every other treatment, cell therapies not only have the potential to kill cancer cells in the moment, but they can multiply and continue bolstering the immune system in the future. But the treatment — often used only as a last resort — is expensive, time-consuming and potentially fatal.

Appia Bio, a Westwood-based biotech startup that came out of stealth on Tuesday, hopes to speed up the process with a new type of treatment known as allogeneic cell therapies. The company is armed with $52 million in Series A funding led by venture capital firm 8VC.

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The California Institute of Technology ranks as one of the top universities in the world when it comes to receiving patents. But more of those inventions should successfully be making it to market, at least according to the investment thesis of Freeflow, a new pre-seed and seed stage venture firm that exclusively backs Caltech startups focused on human and planetary health.

"The people there are amazing scientists who are not afraid to tackle the hard problems," said Freeflow founder and managing partner David Fleck, who was an early Google employee who has spent the last 20 years tackling big data. "But as I started to spend more time there I realized the ecosystem was somewhat underdeveloped. They needed investors that could help them with capital and help them develop a company."

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