San Diego-based Excellos, Inc., which was incubated within the San Diego Blood Bank (SDBB), announced its official corporate launch in late January. The launch announcement also detailed the closing of $15 million in growth funding from Telegraph Hill Partners (THP).
The new company boasts an experienced management team headed by the former CEO of the San Diego Blood Bank (SDBB).
“The launch of Excellos creates a single commercial entity backed by the resources and infrastructure of the San Diego Blood Bank. This allows for direct focus on providing world-class products and services to the cell and gene therapy industry,” Excellos CEO Dr. David Wellis told an industry publication at the Advanced Therapies Week conference in Miami, Florida, where the corporate launch was first announced on Jan. 25.
Excellos is a contract development and manufacturing organization – or CDMO – and supports the development of investigational cellular products.
Other players in the increasingly active CDMO niche include Lonza, Fujifilm, Thermo Fisher and Catalent.
Excellos will focus on supplying cGMP (current Good Manufacturing Practice) cellular products and services, together with process development and manufacturing expertise, to scientists and clinicians working with cell and gene therapies.
The company’s collection network consists of nine SDBB centers in the San Diego area that see an average of over 70,000 diverse donors annually, as well as exclusive access to select, consented material from SDBB’s public cord blood bank.
Excellos also has access to a nationwide collection network, giving it one of the largest cellular material procurement portfolios.
Developing a New Generation of Cell Therapies
Uniquely connecting its broad collection network to state-of-the-art cGMP and R&D; facilities in San Diego, Excellos, which currently has 22 employees, offers a full suite of end-to-end capabilities to facilitate the development and manufacture of ‘autologous’ and ‘allogeneic’ cell therapies.
Excellos works with therapeutic companies developing chimeric antibody receptor-engineered T cells (CAR-T) and tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes (TILs). The company also provides isolated immune cells that are integral to the advancement of immunotherapies.
“Excellos will create highly characterized, standardized cell products and custom services that are essential for advanced therapeutics,” Wellis said.
“The SDBB had been incubating Excellos for a number of years, but fully capitalizing on the rapidly growing opportunity required significantly more resources than the SDBB was able to provide,” Wellis added. “We will now be able to focus exclusively on the needs of the expanding cell and gene therapy industry through the development of our data-driven platform to enable the characterization of cellular therapeutics starting at the donor level.”
Wellis said the funding from THP will allow a “significant facility expansion” and overall growth in Excellos’ capabilities.
Surge in Demand for New Products
“The growth in the cell and gene therapy industry is driving a surge in demand for critical human cells, tissues and services to support the development and commercialization of new products,” said Dr. Paul Grossman, partner at THP.
“We look forward to partnering with Excellos and their proven leadership team,” Grossman added. “Their exclusive access to one of the industry’s largest donor bases, coupled with their technology-focused research and development activities, will help to accelerate the advancement of cell and gene therapies for those patients in need.”
Grossman, Alex Herzick and Deval Lashkari from THP have joined the Excellos board.
Veteran Leadership Team
Excellos’ founding leadership team has a wealth of commercial and industry experience. CEO Wellis previously served as CEO for nine years at SDBB. His team within SDBB created a path that ultimately led to the incubation and formal incorporation of Excellos.
During his career, Wellis has also held senior leadership roles at Illumina and GenVault.
George Eastwood, Excellos chief commercial officer, is also an industry veteran and previously served as VP of global sales and business development for HemaCare.
Chief Scientific Officer Rob Tressler Ph.D. specializes in advanced cell-based therapies. Most recently, as CSO of SDBB, Tressler led the cell therapy, immunohematology, components manufacturing and cord blood banking labs. He’s also served in key leadership roles at Cellerant Therapeutics.
Telegraph Hill Partners, founded in 2001, is based in San Francisco and invests in commercial stage life science, medical technology and healthcare companies.
CEO: David Wellis Ph.D.
Headquarters: San Diego
Notable: As a “full service” CDMO, Excellos pairs the collection of critical human cells and tissues with manufacturing and development services for cell and gene therapies.