Julio Aguirre-Ghiso has steered the work in his lab at Mount Sinai down some of the less-traveled pathways of cancer research. And it's led him to launch a biotech -- which is having its coming-out party today in New York -- that has now set out to develop new medicines tailored for the field he's been pioneering.
While a massive amount of cancer research has been devoted to a better understanding of tumors and new and better ways to kill tumor cells, Aguirre-Ghiso's research has centered on "dormant" disseminated tumor cells, or DTCs, that can reactivate long after drugs have wiped out all appearances of cancer -- fueling a metastatic response that comes back to kill the patient with near certainty.
That lab work has become the foundation of HiberCell, a new company seeded by Arch last summer and now debuting with a $60.75 million launch round. Ari Nowacek, a principal at Arch who has helped champion the company, is stepping in as BD chief for the startup, which has a small, virtual team of 5 now running the show.
The syndicate Nowacek helped form is telling about the way money comes together in the biopharma world these days. Arch allied itself, as it has before, with Hillhouse and 6 Dimensions out of China. Celgene, still operating as an independent company in the lead-up to finalizing the Bristol-Myers buyout, stepped in here as well. The NYC Life Sciences Fund, eager to help foster a Big Apple hub, also contributed cash, alongside a group of unidentified institutional investors and individuals.