Vivet Therapeutics (‘Vivet’), an emerging biotechnology company developing novel gene therapies for rare, inherited metabolic diseases, announced it has raised €37.5 million in a Series A financing round. The round involved a syndicate of leading international life sciences investors led by Novartis Venture Fund and Columbus Venture Partners, and including Roche Venture Fund, HealthCap, Kurma Partners and Ysios Capital.
The funds will be used by Vivet to advance a diversified pipeline of gene therapy programs targeting rare, inherited metabolic diseases, including Wilson Disease, progressive familial intrahepatic cholestasis type 2 (PFIC2), progressive familial intrahepatic cholestasis type 3 (PFIC3) and citrullinemia type I.
Vivet is building its pipeline based on novel technology developed through its partnerships with, and exclusive licenses from, the Fundación para la Investigación Médica Aplicada (FIMA), a not-for-profit foundation at the Centro de Investigación Medica Aplicada (CIMA), University of Navarra based in Pamplona, Spain; and Massachusetts Eye and Ear (MEE), Boston, USA. The licenses cover exclusive use of novel proprietary AAV vector gene therapy technology to treat metabolic diseases and certain MEE patent-protected Anc80 AAV gene therapy vectors. Anc80 is a next-generation gene therapy technology designed to increase gene expression levels in the liver, while reducing the risk of undesired immunogenicity.
Vivet’s lead program, VTX801, is a novel investigational gene therapy targeting Wilson Disease. This rare genetic disorder is caused by a defective gene in liver cells encoding the ATP7B protein, which reduces the liver’s ability to regulate copper levels in the liver and other tissues causing severe hepatic and neurologic symptoms, leading to liver transplantation and potentially death. The disease affects approximately one in 30,000 people worldwide, corresponding to a prevalence of approximately 10,000 patients in the US and 15,000 patients in the EU.
VTX801 uses a novel modified AAV vector to transport a truncated functional version of the ATP7B gene into the liver cells carrying the defective gene to treat the underlying cause of the disease; to restore copper metabolism, reduce liver damage and improve liver function. Vivet expects to initiate first in human trials with VTX801 in Wilson disease by the end of 2018.
Vivet Therapeutics was created in Paris, France, with a wholly-owned subsidiary in Spain, in 2016 by Jens Kurth (ex Anokion, Novartis), Gloria Gonzalez Aseguinolaza (CIMA, University of Navarra) and Jean Philippe Combal (ex Gensight Biologics, Sanofi), bringing together significant experience and expertise in gene therapy, liver diseases and global drug discovery and development for rare diseases.
Florent Gros, Managing Director at Novartis Venture Fund, commented: “We have searched extensively for next generation AAV technologies and clinical applications. We are very excited by Vivet Therapeutics’ clinical and commercial prospects; the company has outstanding management, assets and capabilities.”
Jean-Philippe Combal, Vivet’s Co-founder & CEO, said: “Vivet is delighted to have attracted such a substantial investment from these high profile life sciences investors. This fundraising reflects our shared excitement about the potential of our lead candidate VTX801 and our technology for generating further novel gene therapies targeting rare inherited metabolic diseases. Early results from preclinical studies with VTX801 are very promising, and we are now well funded to advance this candidate into the clinic, while developing our portfolio and technologies.”
Gloria Gonzalez Aseguinolaza, Vivet’s Co-founder & CSO, added: “Technologies for the development of gene therapies have advanced significantly in recent years which, along with an improved understanding of genetic diseases, offer new opportunities for patients with suboptimal therapeutic options. By collaborating with leading institutions such as CIMA in Spain and MEE in the United States, Vivet has secured superior and novel gene therapy technologies and liver disease expertise. We believe these capabilities, combined with the international development expertise of the management team, creates a company with very exciting prospects.”
About Vivet Therapeutics
Vivet Therapeutics is an emerging biotechnology company developing novel gene therapy treatments for rare, inherited metabolic diseases.
Vivet is building a diversified gene therapy pipeline based on novel Adeno Associated Virus (AAV) technologies developed through its partnerships with, and exclusive licenses from, the Fundación para la Investigación Médica Aplicada (FIMA), a not-for-profit foundation at the Centro de Investigación Medica Aplicada (CIMA), University of Navarra based in Pamplona, Spain; and the Massachusetts Eye and Ear (MEE) of Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA.
Vivet’s lead program, VTX801, is a novel investigational gene therapy for Wilson disease. This rare genetic disorder is caused by a defective gene in liver cells encoding the ATP7B protein, which reduces the liver’s ability to regulate copper levels in the liver and other tissues causing severe hepatic damage, neurologic symptoms and potentially death.
Vivet is supported by international life science investors including Novartis Venture Fund, Roche Venture Fund, HealthCap, Columbus Venture Partners, Kurma Partners and Ysios Capital.
About Novartis Venture Fund
The Novartis Venture Fund (NVF) manages over $700 million in committed capital. NVF invests in companies that have the potential to change a core therapeutic field or explore new business areas that will be critical to patient care. NVF’s primary interest is in the development of novel therapeutics and platforms as well as medical devices, diagnostics, and delivery systems. The Funds invest for financial objectives at all stages, but prefers to invest in the early-stages of company development. With investment professionals located in Basel, Switzerland, San Francisco (CA) and Cambridge (MA), the team has extensive experience in pharmaceutical R&D and venture capital. www.nvfund.com
About Columbus Venture Partners
Columbus Venture Partner (CVP) is an independent venture capital that brings a unique approach for investing in outstanding early-stage and high growth opportunities in the life science industry in Spain. CVP portfolio is mainly invested in the Spanish market through its fund Columbus INNVIERTE Life Sciences FCR, in which the Spanish government participates through CDTI. CVP has been instrumental in co-leading the Series A financing of Vivet Therapeutics. For more information, please visit www.columbusvp.com
About Roche Venture Fund
The Roche Venture Fund invests in innovative biotech and diagnostics companies to develop commercially successful life science companies. Based in Basel with an office in South San Francisco, RVF is the corporate venture fund of the healthcare company Roche. RVF invests globally with a portfolio of over 30 companies in 10 countries. For more information, please visit www.venturefund.roche.com
HealthCap is a family of venture capital funds investing globally in life sciences. With more than EUR 1 billion raised since the start in 1996, HealthCap is one of the largest specialized providers of venture capital within life sciences in Europe. The investment in Vivet is made from HealthCap VII LP. www.healthcap.eu
About Kurma Partners
Kurma Partners is a key European player in the financing of Innovation in Healthcare and Biotechnology, from pre-seed to growth capital, notably through Kurma Biofund I and II, and strategic partnerships with prestigious European research and medical institutions. Kurma Biofund II has a specific focus on rare diseases. For more information, please visit www.kurmapartners.com
About Ysios Capital
Ysios Capital is a leading Spanish venture capital firm that provides private equity financing to early- and mid-stage human healthcare and life science companies with a special focus on pharmaceuticals, diagnostics and medical devices. Founded in 2008, Ysios Capital currently has close to €200M ($220M) in assets under management. Ysios BioFund II Innvierte was closed in September 2016 at €126.4M. For more information: www.ysioscapital.com
About Fundación para la Investigación Médica Aplicada (FIMA)
A not-for-profit foundation based in Pamplona, Spain. Its main research site is Centro de Investigación Médica Aplicada (CIMA), the University of Navarra’s biomedical research institute. Its mission is to carry out translational research to a high standard of excellence, based on novel biological knowledge and aimed at finding therapeutic solutions to patients’ needs. CIMA is a leading institution in the field of gene therapy and liver diseases. http://cima.unav.edu; http://www.unav.edu/en/home
About Massachusetts Eye and Ear
Mass. Eye and Ear clinicians and scientists are driven by a mission to find cures for blindness, deafness and diseases of the head and neck. Now united with Schepens Eye Research Institute, Mass. Eye and Ear is the world’s largest vision and hearing research center, developing new treatments and cures through discovery and innovation. Mass. Eye and Ear is a Harvard Medical School teaching hospital and trains future medical leaders in ophthalmology and otolaryngology, through residency as well as clinical and research fellowships. Internationally acclaimed since its founding in 1824, Mass. Eye and Ear employs full-time, board-certified physicians who offer high-quality and affordable specialty care that ranges from the routine to the very complex. In the 2016–2017 “Best Hospitals Survey,” U.S. News & World Report ranked Mass. Eye and Ear #1 in the nation for ear, nose and throat care and #1 in New England for eye care. For more information about life-changing care and research, or to learn how you can help, please visit www.MassEyeAndEar.org