By Cortex Innovation Community in coordination with Wugen and BioGenerator | March 21, 2022
The Cortex Innovation Community today announced that Wugen, Inc., a St. Louis-based clinical-stage biotechnology company developing a pipeline of off-the-shelf cell therapies to treat a broad range of hematological and solid tumor malignancies, will be expanding its St. Louis presence. Wugen’s new space will allow the company to advance the development of its next-generation oncology cell therapies and continue to grow its workforce.
Building on a successful Series B funding round, Wugen has outgrown its original space at the BioGenerator Labs inside the BioSTL Building at 4340 Duncan Ave and will move its headquarter operations within the Cortex Innovation Community to 4260 Forest Park Ave. With locations in St. Louis and San Diego, Wugen chose its founding location of St. Louis and Cortex due to the connectivity with Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, BioGenerator, the startup arm of BioSTL, and other local partners. Wugen anticipates that this expansion will allow them to add up to 100 employees in St. Louis.
“We are excited to stay within the Cortex Innovation Community,” said Dan Kemp, Ph.D., President and Chief Executive Officer of Wugen. “We are proud to be part of St. Louis’ vibrant biotech community and are pleased to continue to grow locally, where we will have the opportunity to maintain proximity to our world-class scientific co-founders at Washington University and build on our existing partnerships with the area’s premier scientific institutions. Our new space will give us more room to grow, accelerating our mission of delivering best-in-class, off-the-shelf cell therapies to cancer patients.”
Wugen was founded in 2018 at the BioGenerator Labs by a leading team of cell therapy investigators at Washington University: Todd Fehniger, M.D., Ph.D., John DiPersio, M.D., Ph.D., Melissa Berrien-Elliott, Ph.D., and Matt Cooper, Ph.D., who is now Wugen’s Chief Scientific Officer. Wugen has since grown rapidly in St. Louis, expanding its workforce to 50 employees at the BioSTL Building and raising more than $200 million in financing from top-tier investors. The company was first launched by RiverVest Venture Partners and John McKearn, Ph.D., Managing Director at RiverVest Venture Partners and Wugen’s founding CEO. Dr. McKearn is now the Chairman of the Board of Directors of Wugen.
In July 2021, Wugen, Inc. completed an over-subscribed $172 million Series B financing led by Abingworth and Tybourne Capital Management, and joined by new investors Fidelity Management & Research Company, Intermediate Capital Group (ICG), Sands Capital, Aisling Capital Management, Alexandria Venture Investments, Velosity Capital and Falcon Edge Capital. This financing followed a $36M Series A in 2020 led by RiverVest Venture Partners and supported by BioGenerator Ventures, Lightchain Capital, and LYZZ Capital.
“From the start, we established Cortex in this midtown location for its proximity to world-class biomedical research,” said Donn Rubin, Founding President & CEO of BioSTL and Cortex Board Member. “Seeing the impressive concept behind Wugen, birthed at Washington University School of Medicine, nurtured and expanded in the BioGenerator Labs community of startups, and now graduating into its own space less than a city block away, is a fulfillment of the BioSTL and Cortex visions.”
In the 4260 Forest Park building, Wugen will join Alcami Corporation, a contract development and manufacturing organization serving pharmaceutical and biotech companies, and Vicia, a nationally recognized award-winning, five-star eatery. The company will occupy the entire 18,000 sq ft first floor, in space formerly occupied by Square. Renovations to the space will include the construction of office and lab space.
“We are proud to support the growth and expansion of Wugen in St. Louis. Cortex strives to curate a startup from inception to maturity, and with our partners, provide the support necessary for companies like Wugen to thrive,” said Sam Fiorello, President and CEO of Cortex. “By providing access to real estate, strong research relationships, and a curated community of startups and mature companies in a variety of industry sectors such as bioscience, cybersecurity, and geospatial, Cortex is able to help companies attract world-class talent and connect to capital opportunities. We look forward to Wugen’s continued success.”
Wugen, Inc., is a clinical-stage biotechnology company developing a pipeline of off-the-shelf memory natural killer (NK) and CAR-T cell therapies to treat a broad range of hematological and solid tumor malignancies. Memory NK cells are hyper-functional, long-lasting immune cells that have evolved to attack cancer and respond to infection. Wugen is harnessing the power of this rare cell population by using its proprietary technologies to create WU-NK-101, currently in development for acute myelogenous leukemia (AML) and solid tumors. Wugen is also advancing WU-CART-007, an allogeneic CAR-T currently in clinical development for T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (T-ALL) and lymphoblastic lymphoma (LBL). For more information, please visit www.wugen.com.