Fund+ Establishes ExeVir Bio with VIB and UCB to Accelerate Development of New Treatment Conferring Broad Protection Against Covid-19
- Leads Series A Financing of EUR23M to Advance Lead Novel Llama-derived Antibody into Clinical Trials
- ExeVir Bio’s Technology Platform has Potential to Generate Robust Antiviral Therapies
- Fund+ Partner Philippe Monteyne will join the Board
Belgium, July 28th, 2020: Fund+, an investment firm focused on innovative European Life Sciences companies, today announces that it has led the EUR22.7 million Series A financing in ExeVir Bio with the participation of VIB, UCB Ventures, the Belgian Federal Government via SFPI-FPIM, V-Bio Ventures and several Belgian family offices.
Fund+, was instrumental in setting up ExeVir Bio, a spin out of VIB, the world class Belgium-based life sciences research institute, which is harnessing its Llama-derived antibody (VHH) technology platform to generate robust antiviral therapies providing broad protection against coronaviruses. After early pre-financing by the Flemish Government, UCB, a multinational biopharmaceutical company, assisted in the generation of the lead candidate and is producing the GMP batches for clinical trials.
Philippe Monteyne, Partner at Fund+, said: “Our mission is to contribute to Belgium’s leadership position in the Life Sciences sector and to generate a tangible, beneficial impact on society. ExeVir Bio fits both of these goals; it has been founded on world class science, with an excellent management team, a global pharmaceutical partner to develop the clinical trial material, and financing to accelerate the development of this promising therapeutic approach to combat the Covid-19 pandemic. We are confident that they will be a leader in antibody-derived therapies against a broad range of viral infections.”
Torsten Mummenbrauer, CEO of ExeVir Bio, said: “We are committed to the international effort against Covid-19 to support healthcare systems and to offer global access to our new treatment. With this Series A financing we can rapidly advance the development of our lead compound into clinical studies by the end of the year. We are confident our Llama-derived antibodies hold a key to saving the lives of patients who can become seriously ill with coronavirus.”
Koenraad van Loo, Managing Director of FPIM, said: “The Federal Holding and Investment Company is excited to participate in this unique antibody concept for potential treatment and prevention of Covid-19. As a public investor, we very much care about the health, well-being and job security of our citizens. Therefore, together with our Life Sciences funds, Fund+ and V-Bio, we are committed to play an active role in managing the current health care crisis. FPIM is convinced that ExeVir’s powerful platform technology based on camelid antibodies deserves a special place among the numerous initiatives taken and can lay the foundations for a successful therapy to combat future pandemics.”
Chris Buyse, Managing Partner of Fund+ said: “Today we are delighted to announce the formation of ExeVir Bio which has been established by Belgian partners combining world class science, antibody engineering, manufacturing, blue-chip investment and Belgian Federal Government financing (via FPIM-SFPI). We have joined forces in a unique collaboration and at record speed to boost the development of new therapies to combat Covid-19.
“This is our 16th investment following recent investments in Ona Therapeutics and Indigo Diabetes. We are also excited to note the successful IPO on Nasdaq by our portfolio company, ITeos Therapeutics, which raised $201 million in an upsized IPO. These are all testament to the world leading research, entrepreneurial spirit and successful life sciences ecosystem in Belgium which we are proud to be part of.”
ExeVir Bio is using a highly innovative and clinically validated VHH technology to develop treatments for viral infections that may pose a significant global threat. Lead asset VHH72-Fc binds to a unique epitope that is conserved in SARS-CoV-1 and SARS-CoV-2 viruses and this binding prevents these viruses from entering the cell. The importance of this approach is that it could be used both as a therapeutic and prophylactic. Therapeutic use could help slow viral replication in the lungs, reduce inflammation, and give patients valuable time to raise their own productive immune response. Prophylactic use could support the ringfencing of an outbreak, protect healthcare workers, and support those at increased risk of severe illness from Covid-19.
For further information, please contact:
Chris Buyse or Philippe Monteyne
Optimum Strategic Communications
Mary Clark, Shabnam Bashir, Manel Mateus
Tel: +44 (0) 203 174 1789
Fund+ is a Belgian venture capital firm that invests in innovative European Life Sciences companies developing drugs, medical devices and diagnostics, with a strong focus on patient-centric approaches and major unmet medical needs. With over €200M in assets under management, Fund+ has built a strong track record since 2015, investing in 13 portfolio companies with two major exits. The fund is managed by a specialist team of seasoned life sciences professionals with healthcare industry, corporate finance and strategy consulting experience, supporting companies throughout their growth cycle. The company aims to maintain a leading position in the Life Sciences sector, creating sustainable value for its shareholders and a tangible impact on society. www.fundplus.be
About ExeVir Bio
ExeVir Bio is harnessing its VHH technology platform to generate robust antiviral therapies providing broad protection against viral infections, including coronaviruses. It is a spin out from VIB, the world class Belgium-based life sciences research institute, based on the work of Professor Drs Xavier Saelens and Nico Callewaert from VIB in collaboration with: Laboratory of Jason McLellan – formerly at Dartmouth College, now at University of Texas at Austin; Laboratory of Barney Graham – NIAID (Vaccine Research Center); Laboratory of Johan Neyts – KU Leuven (Rega Institute). ExeVir Bio is led by a team of experts that combines international biotech and pharma experience with a successful track record of developing and bringing products to market. It is backed by blue chip investors led by Fund+, VIB, UCB Ventures, FPIM, V-Bio and Several Belgian Family Offices.
The technology platform was developed by VIB-UGent scientists, Professors Xavier Saelens and Nico Callewaert with the help of VIB’s drug discovery team at VIB Discovery Sciences, and national and international scientific collaborators. The team has shown that Llama-derived single-domain antibodies can neutralize SARS-CoV-2 in preclinical studies and SARS-CoV-1 in in vitro assays. As Llama antibodies are smaller than human antibodies, they can attach to parts of the coronavirus that would otherwise be inaccessible. The antibodies were derived from a Llama called ‘Winter’. A paper on the platform was published on 28 May 2020 in the journal Cell, on ‘Structural Basis for Potent Neutralization of Betacoronaviruses by Single-Domain Camelid Antibodies’ by Wrapp et al. https://www.cell.com/cell/fulltext/S0092-8674(20)30494-3.
Torsten Mummenbrauer, CEO of ExeVir Bio, Philippe Monteyne, Partner at Fund+, Erica Whittaker, Head of UCB Ventures, Jérôme Van Biervliet, Managing Director, VIB and Katja Rosenkranz, Partner, at V-Bio (observer) will join the Board of ExeVir Bio. Further board appointments will be announced in the future.
The Belgian Federal Holding and Investment company (Société Fédérale de Participations et d’Investissement /Federale Participatie- en Investeringsmaatschappij; SFPI/FPIM), created on November 1th, 2006, is the sovereign wealth fund of Belgium, driving long-term and sustainable economic and social prosperity. SFPI/FPIM, with the Belgian Government as its sole shareholder, acts as a trusted partner in helping Belgian companies to become a reference in their industry by providing smart capital solutions. In addition, SFPI/FPIM safeguards the long-term stability of the Belgian economy by contributing to the anchoring of strategic assets in both promising and established companies. SFPI/FPIM has about 14 bln EUR in assets under management for the Federal State. http://www.sfpi-fpim.be/en