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Prelude Therapeutics gets $50M Series C funding

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Prelude Therapeutics, led by CEO Kris Vaddi, recently closed its third funding round. | PHOTO COURTESY OF PRELUDE THERAPEUTICS

WILMINGTON – Prelude Therapeutics, a private life sciences start-up company, announced Aug. 24 that it has closed a $50 million Series C financing round, continuing its explosive growth in only four years.

The new funds come from Prelude’s two existing institutional investors, including New York-based OrbiMed Advisors LLC, and a new investor, Boston-based Fidelity Management & Research Company LLC. When combined with its previous investment rounds, it has secured a total investment of $145 million after starting with $5 million in start-up funds.

“We are pleased to have the support of this sophisticated group of investors who share our vision of bringing effective new therapies to cancer patients in areas of high unmet need,” said Kris Vaddi, founder and CEO of Prelude, in a statement announcing the funding. “With proceeds from this financing, we believe we are well positioned to continue to execute on building and advancing our pipeline of therapies designed to target key drivers of cancer cell growth, survival and resistance to existing treatments.”

The Series C financing will be used to support Prelude’s oncological research focused on using small-molecule inhibitors as a cancer therapy. It currently has two clinical trials in progress dealing with solid tumors, including of the brain, and is initiating a third clinical trial dealing with certain cancers of the blood, bone marrow, or lymph nodes.

Vaddi founded the company in 2016 and it has since drawn international attention for its work and attracted top pharmaceutical and biotech talent to Delaware. Prior to founding Prelude, Vaddi was an executive of Wilmington-based Incyte Corp. and initiated the research programs that led to the discovery of the billion-dollar-a-year drug Jakafi, which fights blood marrow cancer.

Last fall, Prelude was approved for a $834,090 grant from the state taxpayer-backed Strategic Fund to add 49 positions by 2022 and invest $5 million into expanded lab and office space in the Wilmington area. The company is outgrowing its current locations, split between the Delaware Innovation Space located on the site of the former DuPont Experimental Station in Wilmington as well as nearby overflow office space.

It previously received a $474,000 Strategic Fund grant in 2017 to add positions and relocate from the STAR Campus in Newark. It fulfilled the hiring goals in that grant when it reached 32 employees.

With the additional job growth, Prelude’s team will expand to a projected total of 81 employees by 2022, officials reported. The new positions include professional scientists and skilled associates, who will add approximately $5.5 million to its annual payroll.

In announcing the Series C funding Aug. 24, Prelude also reported that it was adding two new members to its board of directors, now totaling six seats. They include Mardi C. Dier, the former executive vice president, chief financial officer, and chief business officer at Portola Pharmaceuticals Inc., and Dr. Victor Sandor, the former chief medical officer at Array BioPharma Inc.

By Jacob Owens


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