Business & Tech

Magenta Therapeutics gets $50 million in funding

Cambridge biotech startup Magenta Therapeutics has drawn another $50 million in funding to support its development of drugs that can be used in stem cell transplants to treat blood and immunological disorders.

The funding round, announced Tuesday, comes five months after the venture-backed company formally launched with $48.5 million in financing from an investment group led by Third Rock Ventures of Boston and Atlas Venture of Cambridge.

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Magenta’s latest funding round, led by the venture capital arm of Google, brings the startup company’s fund-raising total to nearly $100 million. It recently moved from the Forsyth Entrepreneurial Science Center, a new incubator outside Kendall Square, to larger quarters at 50 Hampshire St. It has 26 employees, but Jason Gardner, Magenta’s chief executive, said the company expects to expand to about 40 — mostly scientists and researchers — by the end of the year.

“There’s been really strong enthusiasm for the vision of the company: to transform transplant medicine,” Gardner, a former executive at British drug giant GlaxoSmithKline PLC, said in an interview. “We’re developing a toolbox of drugs to make transplants more applicable.”

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Gardner said the company would use its new cash infusion — which includes follow-on investments from Atlas and Third Rock — to accelerate its drug research. Magenta is working on a portfolio of medicines to enable transplants for patients suffering from blood cancers, multiple sclerosis, type 1 diabetes, and genetic diseases such as sickle cell anemia.

As part of that effort, the company said it is licensing a drug development program from pharmaceutical giant Novartis AG that’s aimed at increasing the number of cord blood stem cells. That would enable more patients to benefit from transplants. Magenta said it has also struck a partnership with one of its funders, Be The Match BioTherapeutics, on research to improve transplant medicine.

Gardner said going public in an initial public offering is “definitely an option” being considered by Magenta’s board. But he said the company could also fund its expansion by raising additional money through private financing or from strategic partners. He said the company could forge one alliance on multiple experimental drugs or several alliances with different companies.

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“We are going to need partners,” he said. “We are going to need capital.”

Robert Weisman can be reached at robert.weisman@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeRobW.
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