VarmX Raises € 12.5 Million to Develop Modified Blood Coagulation Factor X for Treating Severe Bleeding in Patients Using Anti-Coagulants
VarmX, Leiden based biotech company focusing on the development of therapies in the field of hemostasis and thrombosis, today announced the closing of a Series A financing round of € 7.5 million. The round was led by the existing shareholder BioGeneration Ventures (BGV) and regional economic development company InnovationQuarter also invested. Uniiq and Leiden University are also shareholders through conversion of their start-up loan to the company. The equity financing is supplemented by the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO.nl) with an Innovation Credit of € 5.0 million to a total of € 12.5 million. The series A round is a follow up to the initial seed financing in June 2017 by BGV and Innovation Quarter. This news was announced this weekend at HollandBIO’s Dutch Biotech Event.
VarmX is developing lead compound PseudoXa to stop or prevent bleeding in patients taking anti-coagulants in the form of synthetic factor Xa inhibitors. The product is based on the innovative research into the properties of a snake venom and of human factor X performed at the Leiden University Medical Center (LUMC). The new financing will enable VarmX to advance its lead compound PseudoXa as a safe and effective factor Xa anti-coagulant reversal agent into human clinical studies.
To avoid stroke or deep vein thrombosis, millions of patients worldwide daily take synthetic factor Xa inhibitors, such as apixaban, edoxaban or rivaroxaban, and the use of these drugs is increasing rapidly. As a side-effect, each year 2-3 % of patients taking these anti-coagulant drugs experience severe (internal) bleeding which is difficult to treat or to prevent in the setting of emergency surgery. PseudoXa offers a safe and effective solution to this bleeding problem by its capacity to immediately restore blood coagulation in the presence of factor Xa anti-coagulants.
With their Series A investment, following last year’s seed investment, BGV and InnovationQuarter together with RVO.nl enable the company expand its team and develop the production process, focusing on purification and formulation as well as on the pharmacodynamics and kinetics of the active compound. Moreover, safety in preclinical models and in human volunteers will be demonstrated. Work will also continue on the development of new compounds, to build VarmX into a biotechnology company with a broader pipeline of hemostasis and thrombosis related therapies.
Paul Bilars, CEO of VarmX and Professor Pieter Reitsma, emeritus of Molecular and Experimental Medicine at LUMC and CSO of VarmX, are excited about the prospect of bringing this drug to the market: “We are delighted with the trust of our shareholders, and also with the support that RVO.nl provides for our groundbreaking innovation. This meaningful funding allows VarmX to accelerate the development of PseudoXa and thus achieve our ultimate goal: to get our leading therapy treating severe bleeding in patients using anti-coagulants to the patient as quickly as possible. Our innovation is an important solution for another unmet medical need with which we try to make a difference for patients and their quality of life.”
Francis Quint, Head of InnovationQuarter Capital, states: “We are very satisfied with the good results VarmX reached during the last year and are pleased to again support this LUMC spin off to bring the development of PseudoXa to the next phase, the first clinical trials. Together with BGV and RVO we can give VarmX the opportunity to fully focus on the development of their promising compound, that address the significant unmet needs in the field of anti-coagulants.”
Oskar Slotboom, partner at BGV and chairman of VarmX comments: “We are pleased to lead this investment round to enable VarmX to demonstrate the safety and effectiveness of PseudoXa in clinical trials. Addressing such an unmet need for patients by applying differentiating innovative approaches is at the center of BGV’s investment strategy.”
Caption: VarmX's CEO Paul Bilars (middle left) and CSO Prof. Pieter Reitsma (middle right) show the tumbstone for their new €12.5 mln financing at the HollandBIO Dutch Biotech Event this weekend. On their left side from left to right presenter Hans Schikan, René Brama and Gerty Holla (InnvovationQuarter) and to the right, Francis Quint (InnovationQuarter), Elisabeth Schless of Rvo and Colja Laane on behalf of InnovationQuarter.
Photo: Nils van Houts
VarmX is a pharmaceutical spin-off from the Leiden University Medical Center (LUMC), founded in 2016 by professor Pieter Reitsma, a world leading expert in hemostasis and thrombosis. CEO is Paul Bilars, former managing director of one of LUMC’s divisions. In this capacity, he was also responsible for valorization of IP and strategic sourcing.
Product development is based on R&D performed by one of the world’s leading groups in hemostasis and thrombosis at the Leiden University Medical Center (LUMC), led by professor Reitsma.
The company’s leading product in development, PseudoXa, is a new therapeutic protein, based on the innovative research into the properties of a snake venom, to prevent or stop severe bleeding in patients taking factor Xa inhibitors, such as the commonly used apixaban.
About BioGeneration Ventures (BGV)
BioGeneration Ventures (BGV) is a specialist life sciences venture capital firm, with a focus on early stage European biotech, medtech, and diagnostics companies. BGV has a strong track record of significant financial returns through investing in innovations in healthcare and providing the expertise to build world-class teams. BGV manages funds investing in areas where the science, the unmet medical need, and the potential to promptly demonstrate a significant proof of concept all come together.
Successful investments include divestment of Dezima Pharma to Amgen for up to USD 1.55 billion in total deal value and in Acerta Pharma for up to USD 7 billion with a guaranteed payment of USD 4 billion. In both companies BGV was founding investor. The Acerta Pharma sale was the largest exit ever of a privately held European biotech company. Over the last decade BGV has made over 20 investments.
BGV is based in Naarden, The Netherlands, and closely collaborates with Forbion.
InnovationQuarter is the regional development agency for West Holland. InnovationQuarter finances innovative and fast-growing companies, assists international companies in establishing their businesses in West Holland, and facilitates (international) collaboration between innovative entrepreneurs, knowledge institutes and government. In this way, and in cooperation with the business community, InnovationQuarter supports the development of West Holland to become one of the most innovative regions in Europe.
InnovationQuarter Capital - which currently consists of € 135 million committed capital - offers venture capital to young technology companies and SMEs with growth plans in the region to bring new innovations to market. Through the fund, InnovationQuarter can raise the regional economy to a higher level.
InnovationQuarter is an initiative of the Ministry of Economic Affairs, the Province of South Holland, the Cities of Rotterdam, The Hague, Leiden, Delft, Drechtsteden, Westland and Zoetermeer, Delft University of Technology (TU Delft), Leiden University, the Leiden University Medical Center and Erasmus Medical Centre and Foundation HEID (Holding Fund for Economic Investment The Hague).
UNIIQ is a € 22 million investment fund investing in the proof-of-concept phase in innovative (bio)technology companies which are located in the South-Holland province. UNIIQ offers seed capital to entrepreneurs, offering them the capital for technology- and market validation and fund the initial high-risk proof-of-concept phase.
The fund is founded by Erasmus University Medical Center, Delft University of Technology, Leiden University and regional development agency InnovationQuarter. UNIIQ is supported by the European Union, the province of South-Holland and the municipalities of Rotterdam, The Hague and Leiden. InnovationQuarter performs the Fund management for UNIIQ.
Paul Bilars, CEO VarmX B.V.
Pieter Reitsma, CSO VarmX B.V.
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