PACT Pharma, an oncology biotechnology startup based in California, will lay off 94 of its employees, according to a regulatory notice filed in the state.
Founded in 2018, PACT had raised $75 million in early 2020 to develop its cancer drugs and fund a manufacturing expansion. Vida Ventures led the Series C round, while prior backers included GV, Casdin Capital and AbbVie Ventures. The company has raised over $200 million in total funding.
Oftentimes for startups, a Series C round precedes an initial public offering. However, this year has proved difficult for biotechs, with fewer companies going public amid a prolonged and steep market downturn. In some cases, startups have had to settle for lower valuations. PACT, which has partnered with Lyell Immunopharma, a cell therapy developer that raised $435 million in an IPO last year, has stayed private.
PACT stands for Personalized Adoptive Cell Therapy, the company’s research focus. It’s been working to develop T-cell therapies for people with solid tumors, which typically don’t respond as well to cellular treatments as do blood cancers. PACT’s approach relies on “neoantigens,” or protein flags unique to individuals' cancers. Currently, the company is testing its lead candidate, dubbed NeoTCR-P1, in two Phase 1 clinical trials.
PACT was co-founded by a team of scientists that included Nobel Prize winner David Baltimore. The science behind the company is based on research conducted by one of its founders, Antoni Ribas.
PACT is one of many that have had to reduce staff so far in 2022. The company did not return BioPharma Dive’s request for comment by publication.