UCL spin off biotechnology company Promethera Biosciences (Mont-Saint Guibert, Wallonia/Belgium), with the help and support of pharmaceutical groups and investors worldwide, is targeting a medical breakthrough with an innovative therapeutic cell product designed to treat liver diseases in children and adults.
Following suit to a team of first round investors which includes lead investor Vesalius Biocapital, Sopartec, Vives Fund, SRWI, Invest Sud and NivelInvest among others, five new investors are being added to this list. The collaborative efforts of original investors and a successful round B of fundraising has resulted in a combined total of €17 million in capital, alongside €6.6 million in grants and loans from the Regional Government of Wallonia.
To date through the combined efforts of these investors from Germany, Japan, the UK, the US and Belgium a total capital of nearly 25 million EUR (€23,6M) has been achieved. The team of newly added investors comprises: Boehringer Ingelheim Venture Fund (Germany), Shire (UK and US), Mitsui Global Investment (Japan), ATMI (Belgium and US) and investment fund Sambrinvest from the Charleroi region in Wallonia.
Pure evidence that pharmaceutical companies and investors worldwide believe in the future of this company and the technology it has to offer.
With the success of Round A fundraising in 2009, Promethera has been able to confirm their position in the industry, stemming from an academic structure to a pharmaceutical scale operation. Through the successful tech transfer between UCL lab technology and the University Clinic of St. Luc tissue bank, Promethera has seen steady expansion and recognition worldwide. Not only is this kind of successful technology transfer greatly responsible for the development of the company, it is also of capital importance for the innovation and development of all cell therapies.
Promethera has also done its share in providing growth for the region through the development of a new site where already 14 batches of their signature product have been produced and the expansion of its staff members from 2 to 36 in just over 2 years. Consequently, entering their clinical trials one year ahead of schedule has helped to attract their investors, resulting in a successful Round B fundraising process. The eager and willingness to invest, whether earlier than expected or more than initially intended, shows the amount of trust that these investors have placed in Promethera.
Having already reached this first milestone shows promise they’re heading in the right direction, with hopes to provide the start of a new beginning for liver disease patients.
In other words, achieving their fundraising goal ahead of time means the potential treatment and cure of liver defects such as rare inborn diseases affecting children, classified as “orphan diseases”, and certain acquired deficiencies affecting adults. Having the potential to possibly provide an alternative treatment sooner than planned provides hope to those patients and families who to date have been so dramatically affected by these life threatening diseases and in the long run will potentially lead to saving more lives.
For example, the HepaStem project, recently approved for phase I and phase II clinical studies, is in its early stage of development and in due course will begin its efforts in treating children suffering from certain liver disease and severe liver defects. The product, based on European patented HHALPC (Heterologous Human Adult Liver Progenitor Cells), has received first authorizations in Belgium and the UK to conduct clinical studies among children with Crigler-Najjar syndrom and urea cycle disorders.
What is so exciting about HepaStem and it’s hopes for the future? It’s in the injection and the simplicity of the treatment! One injection into the hepatic vein would means a less invasive procedure and the potential treatment of a wide range of liver pathologies. If proven safe and effective, one liver could have the potential to treat up to 100 patients through a simple injection. What could this mean? A tremendous breakthrough in overcoming the problem of organ shortage, providing an alternative to invasive and irreversible procedures and saving the lives of many who, prior to this, have had very limited options.
And they’re not done yet. Promethera has new innovation in the making, with the development of HepaScreen, a cell model involving metabolism and detoxification of the human liver that involves adult liver-derived stems cell as a biotechnology tool for evaluating new chemical entities This unique model will be available for research and pharmaceutical laboratories to study the metabolism and toxicity of drugs in humans more efficiently than through animal experimentation, therefore reducing the use of animals in laboratory testing.