SV Health Investors announces launch of biotech portfolio company, Cellinta and the Company’s appointment of Dr Soraya Bekkali as CEO

in Portfolio News

  • Investment made through SV7 Impact Medicine Fund (IMF), SV’s first fund focused solely on biotech investment
  • Targeting cancer stem cells with highly selective gene therapy
  • World-class leadership and scientific team, including Scientific co-Founder, Prof Steven Pollard and newly appointed CEO, Dr Soraya Bekkali

Boston, MA & London, UK (September 15, 2020) – SV, a leading transatlantic venture capital and growth equity firm, today announces the official launch of Cellinta Limited, a new private company focussed on targeting cancer stem cells with highly selective gene therapy.

Cellinta was founded in 2019 by SV in concert with Cancer Research UK and the University of Edinburgh (UoE). Cancer Research UK and SV Health investors have formed a strategic partnership to focus on accelerating the translation of Cancer Research UK’s research into the development of new cancer medicines for patients. Cellinta is backed by world-class leadership and scientific team, including Soraya Bekkali, Cellinta’s newly appointed CEO, and Prof Steven Pollard, Professor of Stem Cell & Cancer Biology within the Centre for Regenerative Medicine and Cancer Research UK Edinburgh Centre at UoE, as Senior Advisor. Soraya is a board-certified MD graduated from Paris University with 20 years of experience in drug development and business strategy with a focus on gene therapy. She joins Cellinta from Gyroscope Therapeutics where she served as CEO and Director of the Board.

Cellinta is addressing an enduring patient need using a differentiated approach which offers the opportunity to deliver therapy combinations selectively to cancer stem cells, bypassing the limitations of traditional treatments which often target single genes or redundant signalling pathways. Cellinta has recently entered a Collaborative Research and Option to License Agreement with the UoE which secures Cellinta an option to license intellectual property from UoE developed in the laboratory of Prof Steven Pollard.

SV’s investment into Cellinta was made through the SV7 Impact Medicine Fund (IMF), SV’s first fund focused solely on biotech investments which reached final closing in June 2020 at $265m. The IMF exploits SV’s extensive in-house experience of company creation, focusing predominantly on early-stage biotechnology investments with investments in late preclinical and clinical stage companies representing a minority. As with all the SV’s investments, the biotech investment team are working closely with the team at Cellinta.

Our decision to invest in Cellinta was, as ever, based on innovative and ground-breaking science with the potential to develop first-in-class therapies. This, coupled with the backing of an excellent management team, provides an exciting opportunity to build a leading company,” said Mike Ross, Managing Partner at SV Health Investors and Chairman of Cellinta. “The Company has made great progress to date and we look forward to supporting Cellinta in its progress as a pioneer in the field.”

“I am delighted to be leading such an exciting company,” said Dr. Soraya Bekkali, Chief Executive Officer. “Cellinta’s approach to target cancer stem cells is unique. Gene therapy is now a clinically validated technology that can be leveraged to overcome some of the drug delivery challenges encountered by past drug candidates, and I look forward to translating the full potential of Cellinta’s platform.”

Soraya Bekkali joined Cellinta as CEO in July 2020. She is a board-certified MD graduated from Paris University with 20 years of experience in drug development and business strategy with a focus on gene therapy. She was previously CEO and Director of the Board of Gyroscope Therapeutics, a Syncona backed company based in the UK developing genetically defined therapies for ocular diseases such as dry age-related macular degeneration. During her tenure at Gyroscope she led the organisation towards clinical stage, series B plans and ultimately to the merger with a US based company Orbit Medical commercialising surgical device for subretinal drug delivery. Prior to that she was SVP CMO at Lysogene, a Boston-Paris biotech developing gene therapy for rare CNS disorders where she contributed to the successful listing of the company on the European Stock Exchange Euronext. Her extensive experience encompasses orphan drug development while at Orphan Europe, and broad industry expertise while at Sanofi where she held increasing leadership positions over a 10-year period.

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Further information:

SV Health Investors Communications

Hannah Maunder

JW Communications

Julia Wilson

+44 (0) 7818 430877

About SV Health Investors

SV Health Investors is a leading healthcare fund manager committed to investing in tomorrow’s healthcare breakthroughs. SV invests across stages, geographic regions, and sectors, with expertise spanning biotechnology, dementia, healthcare growth, healthcare technology and public equities. With approximately $2.5B in assets under management and a truly transatlantic presence with offices in Boston and London, SV has built an extensive network of talented investment professionals and experienced industry veterans. Since its founding in 1993, SV has invested in more than 175 companies with more than 75 of these having achieved successful acquisitions or IPOs.

Historically, SV managed funds have been diversified across the three sectors. However, the firm’s seventh vintage of core funds is separated into three distinct vehicles; the SV7 Impact Medicine Fund forms and funds early-stage biotechnology companies developing precision medicines, the Growth Fund accelerates growth-stage healthcare services, medical products and digital health companies and the Medtech Convergence Fund specialises in novel medical device and remote-monitoring technologies.

Alongside their core funds, SV manages the Dementia Discovery Fund, focused on discovering and developing novel therapeutics for dementia, and the International Biotechnology Trust plc, a publicly-traded investment trust.

About Cellinta Ltd

Cellinta is a biotechnology company focused on developing highly selective gene therapies for cancer. Cellinta’s first-in-class gene therapies harnesses master regulators governing cell identity to deliver therapeutic agents selectively to cancer stem cells. ​The Company's platform leverages the expertise and recent discoveries across stem cell biology, synthetic biology and cancer genomics of its renowned founding scientist, Professor Steve Pollard from the University of Edinburgh, UK. This builds upon the advancements of viral vectors as a clinically validated and scalable platform to rapidly develop new treatments for patients. For more information, please visit

About Cancer Research UK’s Commercial Partnerships Team

Cancer Research UK is the world’s leading cancer charity dedicated to saving lives through research. Cancer Research UK’s specialist Commercial Partnerships Team works closely with leading international cancer scientists and their institutes to protect intellectual property arising from their research and to establish links with commercial partners. Cancer Research UK’s commercial activity operates through Cancer Research Technology Ltd., a wholly owned subsidiary of Cancer Research UK. It is the legal entity which pursues drug discovery research in themed alliance partnerships and delivers varied commercial partnering arrangements.

About Edinburgh Innovations

Edinburgh Innovations is the University of Edinburgh’s commercialisation service. EI leads the University’s activities in industry engagement and business development, enterprise support for students and staff, and the identification, management and commercialisation of University intellectual property.

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