Seventure Partners, one of Europe’s leaders in financing innovation and a world leader in life science microbiome investment, is pleased to provide an update on its Health for Life investments for the period June to September 2020.
“Despite the difficulties of the last few months, the microbiome industry continues to grow, and we are seeing an increasing level of investments as well as excellent and promising research results. Our Health for Life Capital II is on the way to significantly exceed the planned raise of EUR 200 million, expected to be closed by the end of year.
“We are also expanding to new regions and have welcomed our first investor from Japan.
“The pandemic and the increasing focus on a healthy lifestyle has accelerated microbiome-related research. We see a growing number of late-phase trials in this field as well as major investment and financing deals, which show that the microbiome will be of prime focus of research in the coming decades,” said Isabelle de Cremoux, CEO and Managing Partner, Seventure Partners.
In July, Seventure’s Health for Life Capital II™ fund qualified for the French government’s financing initiative (“TIBI”), which was set up to support financing of technology companies. Seventure’s fund is the first and only microbiome-focused fund. The initiative has seen French institutional investors commit over €5 billion to finance innovative French companies before the end of 2022.
In August, an opinion piece by Seventure CEO, Isabelle de Cremoux’s, entitled, “The integral role of the microbiome in a post-pandemic world” was published in Microbiome Times. In the piece, she emphasised the increasingly important role of the microbiome during the COVID-19 pandemic, as it has been shown by the unexpectedly high number of successful financing, re-financing and partnership deals by Seventure portfolio companies.
Health for Life II Fund investment news:
• In June, Seventure participated as an existing investor in a new Series E financing round totalling €46.3 million ($52.6million) by Enterome, a company leveraging the microbiome-immuno inflammation axis to develop next-generation therapeutics. New investors included SymBiosis and Takeda, while other main existing investors in the round were Principia, Omnes Capital and Nestlé Health Science
• In July, Seventure led the €18.5 million fundraising round of Citryll, a private Dutch pharmaceutical company dedicated to the development and commercialization of therapeutics that target neutrophil extracellular traps (NETs) and their formation (NETosis). The round was co-led by Seventure and BioGeneration Ventures (BGV) with existing investors BOM Brabant Ventures, BrightGene and ModiQuest contributing. The proceeds will be used to advance the pre-clinical and clinical development of Citryll’s CIT-013 therapeutic antibody, an inhibitor of NETs NETosis. In addition, Citryll has been awarded an Innovation Credit from the Dutch Government. The company also announced in July that its Board has been strengthened with two industry veterans, Paul Peter Tak and Eric Meldrum
• Seventure supported LiMM, a French biopharmaceutical company harnessing the molecular cross-talk between neuronal and innate lymphoid cells within peripheral tissues, with a $3M top-up at seed round in July
• In September, Seventure participated in the $30M Series B funding round of Siolta Therapeutics, a clinical-stage biotech company aiming to alleviate the suffering of millions impacted by chronic inflammatory diseases through novel microbiome-based medicines. The round included series A investors Seventure, Khosla Ventures and Marc Benioff as well as additional new investors, including SymBiosis, and Global Brain (Kirin Health Innovation Fund/GB-VII)
• Seventure – as a historic shareholder – supported LNC Therapeutics (now renamed Ysopia Bioscience) as it raised €6.2 million via a capital increase and non-dilutive funding in September. The capital increase involved a new family office, in addition to Seventure. The funds will be used for the clinical development of the Company’s Live Biotherapeutic Products (LBPs) and to study Christensenella bacteria. LNC investigates keystone single-strain bacteria to develop ground-breaking microbiome-based drugs
• In early October, Seventure participated as a new investor in the $50M Series A financing round of Federation Bio, a company aiming to leverage the power of active microbial communities to address high unmet medical needs The round was led by Horizons Ventures, and joined by existing investors Venrock and Altitude. Federation Bio will use the proceeds to build out its in-house development process to enable Phase 1/2 manufacturing and advance its lead program into the clinic. The Company’s lead program is focused on secondary hyperoxaluria
The Company also appointed Emily Drabant Conley, Ph.D., as chief executive officer, as well as announced the addition of Dr. Conley and John Stuelpnagel, D.V.M, to the board of directors.
As COVID-19 continues to spread, September saw a significant increase in the number of infections. In addition to the typical symptoms of pulmonary infection, patients with COVID-19 have been reported to have gastrointestinal symptoms and/or intestinal flora dysbiosis, suggested that intestinal flora and its metabolites play a crucial role in regulating immune and inflammatory response of the host.
For the first time, researchers at the Chinese University of Hong Kong detected active and prolonged infection of SARS-CoV-2 virus in the gastrointestinal (GI) tracts of people with confirmed COVID-19. Stool tests were positive among people with no GI symptoms, and in some cases up to six days after nasopharyngeal swabs yielded negative results. However, it is not yet known how the virus makes its way to the gastrointestinal tract. It is suspected that some infectious particles survive the stomach’s acidic environment.
As new COVID-19 cases rise in the UK and across Europe, governments have introduced stricter rules. A recent opinion piece by the American Society of Microbiology, researchers hypothesise that social distancing might have an impact on the diversity of the human gut microbiome and therefore on human health. As research suggests, social distancing and hygiene rules can decrease the diversity of gut microbiota, which could have an adverse effect on susceptibility to diseases and infections. On the other hand, these changes also decrease the rate of the transmission of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. The authors call for more research in this field.
Health for Life Capital™ Portfolio News
In July, Axial Biotherapeutics, dedicated to building a unique class of gut-targeted therapeutics for neurodegenerative diseases and neurodevelopmental disorders, announced it received a research grant of $440,000 from The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research. The grant will enable the development of a novel in-vitro model system of the enteric nervous system derived from alpha-synuclein overexpressing (ASO) mice to support the discovery of a small molecule for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease (PD).
• In September, Axial appointed Federico Bolognani, M.D., Ph.D. as Vice President and Head of Clinical Science, effective November 2, 2020. The newly created position is on the Autism Spectrum Disorder SAB, which helps advance AB-2004 into Phase 2b development
BiomX Inc. (NYSE American: PHGE), a clinical stage company developing natural and engineered phage therapies that target specific pathogenic bacteria, announced that in September it entered into a collaboration with Boehringer Ingelheim to utilize the BiomX XMarker microbiome-based biomarker discovery platform to potentially identify biomarkers associated with patient phenotypes in inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). As part of the collaboration, BiomX will generate metagenomic data of gut microbiome samples obtained from IBD patients with the aim of identifying biomarkers using the XMarker platform.
In July, Eligo Bioscience, a French preclinical-stage biotechnology company pioneering microbiome gene therapy, announced that it had received up to US$1.82 million from the Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria Biopharmaceutical Accelerator (CARB-X) to develop a new generation of highly-specific antimicrobials to prevent multi-drug-resistant bacterial infections in organ transplant patients. The company will receive additional funding for a total of up to US$7.05 million if project milestones are met.
In July, Enterome, a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company leveraging its unique knowledge of the microbiome-immuno inflammation axis to develop next-generation therapeutics, initiated its first clinical trial (phase 1/2; ‘ROSALIE’) with EO2401 – an innovative microbiome-antigen (‘OncoMimic’)-based cancer immunotherapy candidate targeting aggressive brain cancer. Initial clinical data are expected in 2022.
• In August, Enterome scientists contributed to an extensive new genomic and proteomic catalogue of more than 200,000 reference genomes from over 4,600 species of human gut bacteria, to enhance analysis of the gut microbiome and improve the understanding of its role in human health. The paper was published in Nature Biotechnology
• In early September, Enterome announced that it had initiated a new clinical trial with EO2401. The new Phase 1/2 clinical trial, named ‘SPENCER’, is investigating EO2401 in combination with an immune checkpoint inhibitor as a potential new treatment for adrenal malignancies
• In late September, the company announced that the first patient had been dosed in a Phase 2a clinical trial of sibofimloc (EB8018/TAK-018) for Crohn’s disease. Sibofimloc is advancing through clinical development under a 2018 global licensing, co-development and co-commercialization partnership with Takeda
In September, LNC Therapeutics (renamed Ysopia Bioscience), a French biotech company harnessing the properties of keystone single-strain bacteria to develop microbiome-based drugs, announced that FDA had approved the Investigational New Drug (IND) application of Xla1, the Company’s lead candidate addressing of obesity and metabolic disorders.
MaaT Pharma, a French clinical stage company, announced in August the initiation of a new collection and manufacturing campaign for the production of its microbiome biotherapeutics, enema formulation MaaT013 and capsule formulation MaaT033. It is aimed to be completed in the second half of 2020.
Microbiotica, a UK-based leading player in microbiome-based therapeutics and biomarkers, announced in June that it had entered collaboration with Cancer Research UK and Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (“CUH”) to identify and develop microbiome co-therapeutics and biomarkers for cancer patients receiving immune checkpoint inhibitor therapy.
Vedanta Biosciences, a US based clinical-stage company developing a new category of therapies for immune-mediated diseases based on rationally-defined consortia of human microbiome-derived bacteria, announced in June its positive topline data from two Phase 1 studies in healthy volunteers of VE202, the Company’s orally-administered live biotherapeutic product (LBP) candidate for inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). The studies showed that VE202 was generally safe and well tolerated at all doses and demonstrated durable and dose-dependent colonization. Vedanta expects to begin a Phase 2 study in IBD patients in the next 12 months.
• Vedanta also announced in June the receipt of $12 million in additional capital and R&D collaboration funds from new and existing investors, including JSR Corporation, bringing the total Series C/C-2 funding to $71.1 million. The company’s pipeline includes four clinical-stage product candidates currently being evaluated for the treatment of high-risk C. difficile infection, IBD, food allergy and advanced or metastatic cancers (in combination with Bristol Myers Squibb’s checkpoint inhibitor Opdivo®)
• In September, Vedanta announced the appointment of Jeffrey Silber, M.D., as chief medical officer, who will guide the advancement of the company’s clinical programs. Nancy Chiu Wilker, Ph.D., J.D., also joins as vice president of legal, where among other responsibilities, she will oversee and expand the company’s foundational portfolio of patents around live biotherapeutic products
On 7 October, Isabelle participated at the Virtual Microbiome Times web series, where she gave a presentation on “How Covid-19 has impacted in the microbiome industry”.
Over the coming months, Seventure will also be presenting at the following event:
• 26 – 29 October 2020, BioEurope Digital
– Denise Kelly, Investment Advisor at Seventure, will be presenting on “Specializing and investing in the microbiome spaces” in a pre-recorded format. The presentation will be available on demand