Tengion raises $33M third round

Replacement bladder company Tengion Inc. has raised about $33 million in Series C funding. Deerfield Partners came aboard as a new investor, and was joined by return backers Bain Capital Partners, Healthcap Venture Capital, Johnson & Johnson Development Corp., L Capital Partners, Oak Investment Partners, Quaker BioVentures and Scheer & Co.

Existing debt lenders Horizon Technology Finance and Oxford Finance also provided equity commitments to the company, which has raised about $120 million in venture funding since 2004.

The East Norriton, Penn.-based company develops new human tissues and organs derived from a patient’s cells, rather than relying on donor transplants that may be in limited supply or incompatible with recipients. The technology is part of a burgeoning field of regenerative medicine, which also includes other VC-backed companies, such as Durham, N.C.-based Aldagen (which has raised about $45 million in several rounds from Intersouth Partners, Aurora Funds and other venture investors) and Tigenix (a Belgium company that has raised more than $36 million from Capricorn Venture Partners and others since 2003).

“I’ve seen a few other regenerative medicine companies out there making cartilage or various tissues, but Tengion is the only one I’ve seen that’s focused specifically on bladders,” says Brenda Gavin, a managing director with Quaker BioVentures. “It’s a bit behind where we thought it would be when we raised the Series B round [a $50 million infusion in mid-2006], although the delay is not too significant. I’m not sure that the company will need another venture capital round.”

Tengion launched its first round of Phase II trials early this year, with pediatric patients suffering from spina bifida. Its second round of trials launched last month for 10 adult patients who have suffered spinal cord injuries. In both cases, trial participants have a condition called neurogenic bladder, which can lead to kidney failure and incontinence.

Tengion CFO Gary Sender declined to echo Gavin’s comments about future funding. He said that no decisions have yet been made about future financing options.