02.07.19 | news

HiberCell Launches to Prevent Cancer Relapse and Metastasis with Novel Therapeutics

  • $60.75M funding round led by ARCH Venture Partners with 6 Dimensions Capital
  • HiberCell will build on pioneering tumor dormancy research conducted by the Julio Aguirre-Ghiso Lab at The Tisch Cancer Institute at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai

NEW YORK–February 7, 2019 – /PR Newswire/–HiberCell, a biotechnology company developing therapeutics focused on preventing cancer relapse and metastasis, launched today with $60.75M in Series A funding led by ARCH Venture Partners. HiberCell is the first company exclusively focused on tumor dormancy detection and therapeutics.

Most patients who succumb to cancer do so because of metastatic cancer. Accumulated evidence has demonstrated that cancer recurrence is driven by dormant disseminated tumor cells (DTCs) that persist undetected in the body for prolonged periods of time. In approaching cancer as a systemic disease, the company seeks to detect and therapeutically target the ‘Achilles heel’ of patient DTCs to prevent or delay metastasis. The company is developing first-in-class therapeutics targeting DTCs originating from solid and liquid cancers.

“HiberCell is the foundational tumor dormancy company,” said Alan Rigby, Ph.D., co-founder, president and chief scientific officer. “We know that dormant disseminated tumor cells are critical drivers of cancer metastasis. In translating this biology into the clinic, our work will be focused on further defining the characteristic genetics and transcriptomics of dormant disseminated tumor cells and charting a course to leverage our dormancy therapies to improve patient outcomes and survival. We believe that this approach provides a differentiated opportunity to change the paradigm of cancer treatment.”

“While we have made great strides in treating primary tumors, the unfortunate and painful truth is that relapsed or metastatic cancer still claims the lives of most people with cancer, even when their primary tumor has been successfully treated,” said Julio Aguirre-Ghiso, Ph.D., HiberCell’s scientific founder and professor of Medicine (Hematology and Medical Oncology), director of Head and Neck Cancer Basic Research and Solid Tumor and Metastasis Research and co-leader of the Cancer Mechanisms Program at The Tisch Cancer Institute at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. “HiberCell will build on the foundational biology that is in place by focusing on novel tools to better detect, isolate and annotate the survival mechanisms in these dormant disseminated tumor cells. By targeting these mechanisms with therapeutics, we believe it is possible to extend disease-free intervals and improve the chance of survival through lower rates of relapse and metastasis.”

“We’re launching HiberCell at an exciting time for cancer treatments,” said Ari Nowacek, principal at ARCH Venture Partners. “Recent advances in cancer treatment that take advantage of a patient’s immune system are providing prolonged survival advantages to patients, but cancer metastasis represents a significant unmet medical need across the cancer landscape.”

In addition to backing from ARCH Venture Partners, investors include 6 Dimensions Capital, Celgene Corporation, the NYC Life Sciences Fund and undisclosed institutional investors, family offices and private individuals.

HiberCell represents a significant investment by the NYC Life Sciences Fund. Established by the New York City Economic Development Corporation, the Fund is at the forefront of initiatives designed to champion New York City’s early-stage life sciences ecosystem. Separately, Dr. Aguirre-Ghiso received the 2016 BioAccelerate Prize for work that has been licensed by HiberCell. The Prize is awarded by the Partnership Fund for New York City to provide funding for the commercialization of research at New York academic institutions.

“HiberCell exemplifies the high caliber innovation that New York’s life sciences ecosystem can support and foster,” said James Patchett, president and CEO of NYCEDC. “The HiberCell team has the scientific and financial backing needed to advance cutting-edge science and make a meaningful difference in cancer patients’ lives. NYCEDC is proud to foster that kind of work here in New York City.”

“HiberCell is slated to be one of the more prominent academic new ventures in New York City this year, and demonstrates Mount Sinai’s commitment to developing innovative therapies,” said Erik Lium, Ph.D., executive vice president of Mount Sinai Innovation Partners. “This groundbreaking partnership between HiberCell’s leadership team, Mount Sinai, ARCH Venture Partners, the NYCEDC and other prominent investor groups seeks to bring novel therapies to the fight against cancer.”

HiberCell will occupy state-of-the-art lab and office space in The Hudson Research Center, a partnership between Taconic Investment Partners and Silverstein Properties located at 619 West 54th Street.

Leadership Team

HiberCell’s rapidly expanding, multidisciplinary team consists of world-class cancer scientists, venture capitalists and drug developers who are leaders within their respective fields. At launch, Alan Rigby, Ph.D., will lead the company as president and chief scientific officer. Ari Nowacek, Ph.D., M.D., principal at ARCH Venture Partners, will serve as vice president of operations and business development, and Mark Mulvihill, Ph.D., will serve as vice president of chemistry and drug discovery.

Board of Directors

  • Steven Gillis, Ph.D., chairman of the board at HiberCell, managing director at ARCH Venture Partners
  • Alan Rigby, Ph.D., president and chief scientific officer at HiberCell
  • Ari Nowacek, M.D., Ph.D., principal at ARCH Venture Partners & vice president, operations and business development at HiberCell
  • Kevin Heyeck, venture partner at 6 Dimensions Capital

Scientific Advisory Board

  • Julio Aguirre-Ghiso, Ph.D., director of Solid Tumor and Metastasis Research, director of Head and Neck Cancer Basic Research, co-leader of the Cancer Mechanisms Program and professor of Oncological Sciences, Otolaryngology, and Medicine (Hematology and Medical Oncology) at The Tisch Cancer Institute at the Icahn School of Medicine
  • Christoph Klein, M.D., Ph.D., head of the Department of Experimental Medicine and Therapy Research at the University of Regensburg, head of Personalized Tumor Therapy, a division of Fraunhofer Institute for Toxicology and Experimental Medicine (ITEM)
  • Ruggero De Maria, M.D., professor and director of the Institute of General Pathology at the Catholic University of Rome, president of the Italian Institute for Genomic Medicine in Turin, Italy and president of the Italian Alliance Against Cancer network


About HiberCell
HiberCell is the first company exclusively focused on tumor dormancy detection and therapeutics. The company is developing first-in-class therapeutics that target dormant disseminated tumor cells (DTCs) from solid and liquid cancers, with the ultimate goal of preventing cancer relapse and metastasis. For more information, please visit http://www.hibercell.com.