Carina Biotech is delighted to announce it has raised AU$5.4 million. The raise was strongly supported by current shareholders, board and management and attracted new institutional and impact investors including a cornerstone investment from the Minderoo Foundation.

The funding will enable us to undertake the required studies to initiate a clinical trial of our lead LGR5-targeted CAR-T program for the treatment of advanced colorectal (bowel) cancer in late 2022.

Dr Steve Burnell, CEO of Minderoo Foundation’s Collaborate Against Cancer Initiative, commented: “We are pleased to accelerate the development of breakthrough therapies such as CAR-T against solid tumours. Carina’s program is closely aligned with our strategy that is driving more personalised care, and our mission to make cancer a treatable, non-lethal disease.” 

Carina’s CEO Dr Deborah Rathjen said: “We warmly welcome our new investors and thank our existing investors who have also supported this financing. 

“At Carina Biotech, we are focused on our goal of creating a future that defeats cancer. The LGR5 CAR-T cell for advanced colorectal cancer is a great place to start, given this cancer’s very poor prognosis and rising incidence, particularly in younger people. 

“We know that colorectal cancer is the deadliest cancer for young Australians. We also know that there has been a nearly 190% increase in colorectal cancer cases in adolescents and young people in Australia over the last 30 years. These trends are seen internationally as well.

“This is a lethal cancer for all Australians, young and old, that we want to be able to treat.” 

Carina’s approach to institutional and impact investors was undertaken by MST Financial. Peter Wilson of wilsonemmett acted as financial adviser to Carina.

About Carina’s LGR5 CAR-T program
Advanced colorectal cancer currently has a poor prognosis and is the deadliest form of cancer for Australians 25 to 34 years old. LGR5 is a cancer stem cell marker that is highly expressed on advanced colorectal cancer and other cancers. In colon cancer patients, LGR5+ expression has been correlated with a particularly poor prognosis.

Cancer stem cells are a small sub-population of cells within a tumour with the ability to:

  • self-renew
  • differentiate into the many cell types of a tumour
  • initiate new tumours
  • resist chemotherapy and radiotherapy leading to relapses

By targeting a cancer stem cell, it is hoped that this therapy will reduce the tumour’s ability to generate new cells, resulting in durable tumour suppression and preventing relapses which are very common in patients with colorectal cancer.

Carina’s pre-clinical studies of the LGR5-targeted CAR-T cell have shown highly promising results with complete tumour regression and no tumour recurrence. They have also demonstrated impressive tumour access and prolonged CAR-T cell survival.

About Minderoo Foundation 
Established by Andrew and Nicola Forrest in 2001, Minderoo Foundation is a modern philanthropic organisation seeking to break down barriers, innovate and drive positive, lasting change. Minderoo Foundation is proudly Australian, with ten key initiatives spanning from ocean research and ending slavery, to collaboration against cancer and building community projects. The Minderoo Foundation’s Strategic Investment Fund pursues profit and purpose, with investments that align with the objectives of the Foundation’s key initiatives.