Statewide: Triangle region, December 2015

 In 2015-12
Biotech bonanza

There are 4,000 tubes in the human body, and leaders of Humacyte say they’ll be able to re-create any of them. The Morrisville-based company in October raised $150 million, which CEO Carrie Cox calls one of the biotech industry’s largest venture investments. Contributors include Russian billionaire Gavril Yushvaev and Brady Dougan, the former CEO of Swiss investment bank Credit Suisse, who has served on Humacyte’s board for the last 10 years. The 51-employee company raised $12 million in 2010.

In 2004, former Duke University professor Laura Niklason started Humacyte to create products based on human tissue that can be used in regenerative medicine and vascular surgery. She now teaches at Yale, but the company stayed in North Carolina. Kathleen Sebelius, former U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services, joined its board in September.

The money will help fund clinical trials for the company’s flagship product, Humacyl, which can be used to treat patients with chronic kidney disease. As part of the procedure, called hemodialysis, surgeons implant a graft to flow blood through the body. Surgeons now use a synthetic plastic tube that degrades over time and is often rejected by the body. The Humacyl product is grown from donated aortic tissue. “It really becomes your own vessel,” Chief Financial Officer Paul Boyer says.

Findings from previous clinical trials haven’t been publicized, while the plan calls for a commercial product by 2019. Humacyte believes its technology can expand from creating blood vessels to also replacing esophagi, part of the canal connecting the throat to the stomach. “We have the ability with our platform to grow a graft pretty much of any size and length,” Boyer says.

 


Briefs

DURHAMFidelity Investments will invest $8 million and add 600 jobs with an average annual salary of at least $100,000 by the end of 2018. The Boston-based financial-services company employs more than 3,500 people in the Triangle. Fidelity could receive more than $15 million in state grants if it meets goals.

CHAPEL HILL — Bristol-Myers Squibb will acquire Cardioxyl Pharmaceuticals for $300 million. The New York-based drugmaker could pay an additional $1.8 billion if certain development, regulatory and sales milestones are met. Started in Maryland in 2005, Cardioxyl moved here in 2009 and has 10 employees. Its lead product is an experimental treatment for heart failure.

DURHAMQuintiles founder Dennis Gillings will retire as executive chairman at year-end. He will remain a director. Gillings started what is now the world’s largest contract-research organization in 1982 as a professor at UNC Chapel Hill. The company employs nearly 35,000 people in 100 countries. Jack Greenberg, a former chairman and CEO of McDonald’s, will replace Gillings as chairman.

RALEIGH — Red Hat acquired Durham-based software company Ansible for an undisclosed price. Started in 2013, Ansible provides tools to help companies automate their technology without requiring coding expertise.  Also, the software company based here signed a deal to enable clients to run its Enterprise Linux software on Microsoft’s Azure cloud-computing platform.

MORRISVILLE — Digital marketing company Netsertive, founded here in 2009 by Brendan Morrissey and Bill Nagel, raised $15 million in a financing led by Cincinnati-based River Cities Capital Funds.

RALEIGHPendo, a cloud-software company based here since 2013, raised $11 million in a financing led by Battery Ventures, an investment firm with offices in California, Massachusetts and Israel. Other investors include Salesforce Ventures.

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