Kizoo leads $5M seed round at Harvard spin-off CELLVIE in pursuit of a new treatment modality: Therapeutic Mitochondria Transfer (TMT)
Berlin/Zurich and Houston. Harvard spin-off cellvie Inc. closes its $5M seed round led by Kizoo Technology Capital to advance its product pipeline, including a first application in rejuvenation.
Mitochondria are intimately tied to the origin of complex life, the energy of the young and the decline of the old. They are the powerhouses of the cell, generating most of the cellular energy and operate as critical intra-cellular communication nodes. Mitochondria dysfunction has been tied to a host of diseases, ranging from neurodegenerative ailments such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, over heart attacks and strokes, to age-related degeneration.
“But treating mitochondria has proven to be an arduous challenge” said Dr. James McCully, a founder of cellvie and Associate Professor of Surgery at Boston’s Children’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School where he pioneered the therapeutic use of mitochondria. “That is why we turned to introducing healthy, viable mitochondria into cells where these organelles are impaired. To great effect. We can sustainably reinvigorate cells’ failing energy metabolism.”
The potential of Therapeutic Mitochondria Transfer was recently demonstrated in a clinical investigation at Boston Children’s Hospital. Pediatric patients on heart-lung-support after suffering a cardiogenic shock, received the treatment to revitalize their heart muscle. 80% of these children experienced myocardial recovery, which compares to an expected 29%, as reported in a publication forthcoming in The Journal of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery.
“The implications of our findings are groundbreaking. We may have the chance to bring about a new treatment modality,” said Dr. Alexander Schueller, founder and CEO of cellvie. “The investment will enable us to pursue the platform broadly, including a first application in aging, where the need for mitochondria-recovery is particularly dear.”
To date, cellvie focused primarily on ischemia-reperfusion injury (IRI), one of the world’s leading causes of death. IRI manifests itself whenever the blood flow to a part of the body is interrupted and subsequently reintroduced. Well-known medical conditions include heart attacks, strokes, and organ transplantation. cellvie is pursuing an indication in organ transplantation, first, for which the FDA awarded orphan drug designation in 2020. The capital injection will be employed for productization, to expand cellvie’s product pipeline and to prepare an IND submission for a clinical study in kidney transplantation.
“We were immediately attracted to the potential of cellvie’s approach to emerge as a novel category of medicines” said Frank Schueler, Managing Director at Kizoo Technology Capital. “With mitochondria dysfunction a common denominator to disease and aging alike, cellvie’s ability to affect the cell energy metabolism may pave the road to address hitherto intractable human ailments”. Frank Schueler will join the company’s Board of Directors.
Mambu, the market-leading SaaS banking platform, today announced its latest funding round of $135 million in new capital. This round was led by TCV, whose investments include Netflix, RELEX, Spotify, and WorldRemit. Additional investment was received by Tiger Global and Arena Holdings, as well as existing investors Bessemer Venture Partners, Runa Capital and Acton Capital Partners. The new round brings the company’s valuation to over $2.1 billion.
London – LIfT BioSciences, a biotech company developing a first in class innate cell therapy with the potential to destroy all solid tumours, irrespective of strain or mutation today announced that their flagship cell therapy, N-LIfT, has demonstrated migration to the human pancreatic tumour site, successfully infiltrating the orthotopically grown tumour in nude mice.
The tumour was grown over two weeks before mice were given a single dose of two billion N-LIfT cells via the tail-vein.
Pancreatic cancer is among the most difficult to treat, with five-year survival rates of under 5% in most countries. In 2020 alone, nearly half a million people have been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and the vast majority are unlikely to survive for a full year. Pancreatic cancer is often diagnosed late and the site of the tumour is difficult to infiltrate because it is surrounded by a network of non-malignant cells that act as a protective barrier. Infiltrating the tumour is, therefore, difficult for traditional and novel therapies alike.
Chimeric antigen receptor T cells (CAR -T), which are genetically engineered to express a receptor that recognizes a specific antigen, have been proven successful in treating haematological malignancies. However, there is little evidence that those cells can successfully treat solid tumours and, particularly, pancreatic cancer.
"CAR T's rely on being pre-programmed to find and destroy cells with a specific marker on their surface, however, this approach has not been very successful in treating solid tumours” said Alex Blyth, CEO of LIfT BioSciences. “Unlike cancers such as leukaemia or lymphoma in which the tumour cells universally express the B-cell marker CD19, solid tumours rarely express one specific antigen. They tend to display a large degree of antigen heterogeneity and they are constantly mutating. Targeting a few antigens is like developing a few keys when there are many ever changing locks."
Patrick Burgermeister, Partner at Kizoo Technology Capital commented: “LIfT deliberately avoids targeting specific molecules and engages the innate immune system against cancer. We consider this a highly promising approach against a disease that constantly mutates and, hence, presents a ‘moving target’. We are proud to be investors in this approach that is potentially efficacious across most cancer types."
Why is N-LIfT (Neutrophil based Leukocyte Infusion Therapy) different?
N-LIfT (Neutrophil Only Leukocyte Infusion Therapy) is produced from the stem cells of exceptional cancer killing donors, who have no family history of cancer, to produce special neutrophils in the body of patients. The cell therapy is allogeneic and is utilising the innate immune system of these exceptional donors to directly attack the tumour and recruit the patients’ own immune system to join the attack.
"N1a neutrophils have 10-20 times the cancer killing ability you might see in a cancer patient. Once in the body, N-LIfT proliferates into billions of N1a neutrophils that will seek, infiltrate and destroy threats such as cancer cells. They do not appear to be limited to specific antigens like more targeted pre-programmed therapies are, so they destroy all cancer cells rather than just the selection they are programmed to attack. Due to millions of years of evolution, some people won’t get cancer in their lifetime. We are aiming to bring what the few have naturally to the many who don't. This is the first-time that anyone has ever seen images of human neutrophils produced ex-vivo infiltrating pancreatic human cancers we are all very excited about this and what comes next as we now move into efficacy studies" commented Alex Blyth.
The image below shows a tissue sample from the pancreas of a Nude Athymic Mouse with orthotopic human pancreatic tumour cells (condensed blue mass) surrounded by blood vessels (green) with N-LIfT cells (pink) having infiltrated into the pancreatic tumour site. It is evident that neutrophils are attracted to the tumour site, as they are much more heavily concentrated in and around tumour sites than in healthy tissue.
Fig 1. Zoom in on human pancreatic tumour site in mouse
The work builds on the success LIfT BioSciences has already had in showing exceptional selective in-vitro cancer cell killing across a range of tumours, including pancreatic, liver and lung tumours. LIfT builds on an existing evidence base of independently conducted studies into exceptional neutrophils efficacy in cancer that showed 100% sustained remission in mice (Cui 2006) and up to 80% tumour necrosis in end-stage metastatic patients in just two weeks of therapy (Maharaj 2017).
LIfT BioSciences also announced that it has developed a cost-effective and scalable way to produce and store N-LIfT and that it is looking to develop a next generation iPSC version of N-LIfT in collaboration with Kings College London’s Centre for Cell Therapies & Regenerative Medicine.
LIfT BioSciences is now preparing to undertake a significant Series A financing round in 2021 to further develop its manufacturing technology and fund human clinical trials. LIfT BioSciences is looking to demonstrate in-vivo superiority over standard of care in Pancreatic Ductal Adenocarcinoma (PDAC), Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer (NSCLC) and Hepatocellular Carcinoma (HCC). Additional venture capital and private family wealth funds are invited to join the investment syndicate.
Revel Pharmaceuticals, a privately held biotechnology company creating therapeutics to reverse and repair damage that results from aging, today announced recent additions to its Board of Directors and Scientific Advisory Board.
Joining as a member of the Board of Directors is Jennifer Cochran, Ph.D. “We are thrilled to attract stellar leadership that matches the level of promise of Revel’s mission of attacking diseases of aging,” said Aaron Cravens, Revel co-founder and CEO. “Augmenting our Board leadership with Dr. Cochran’s insights and experience will ensure that Revel Pharmaceuticals has the guidance to maximize the therapeutic promise of our technology.”
Dr. Cochran joins the Revel Pharmaceuticals Board of Directors with over 25 years of experience in the discovery and development of therapeutics. Dr. Cochran has co-founded several biotechnology companies including xCella Biosciences which develops antibody therapeutics, and is a Venture Partner at Lagunita Biosciences. Since 2008, she has served as a Professor of Bioengineering at Stanford University, and is presently Shriram Chair of Bioengineering at Stanford University. She also serves as the Director of the Stanford/NIH Biotechnology predoctoral training program. Her expertise spans protein-based drug discovery and development for applications in regenerative medicine, oncology and ophthalmology, and development of new technologies for high-throughput protein analysis and engineering. Dr. Cochran obtained her Ph.D. in Biological Chemistry from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where she also completed a postdoctoral fellowship in Biological Engineering. She has received numerous accolades for her work including the National Cancer Institute Howard Temin Award, and an American Cancer Society Research Scholar Award. Dr. Cochran has published over 75 papers in peer-reviewed journals and is named as an inventor on over 35 patent applications. “I am delighted to join Revel’s Board and work with the team to build a transformative new class of therapeutics around AGE-breaking enzymes” stated Jennifer Cochran.
Joining as a member of the Scientific Advisory Board is Vincent Monnier, Ph.D. “Revel will benefit massively from Dr. Monnier’s decades of expertise and study of the molecular mechanisms of aging” said Patrick Burgermeister, Board Member and Partner at Kizoo.
Dr. Monnier joins Revel’s Scientific Advisory Board with over 45 years of experience working in clinical pathology and study of the Maillard reaction, Advanced Glycation End Products (AGEs) and how they relate to aging and complications of diabetes. Dr. Monnier is a Professor of Pathology at Case Western Reserve University with a research focus on elucidation of the molecular mechanisms by which the aging process leads to impairment of protein function. Dr. Monnier discovered that the AGE glucosepane is the single most significant cross-link in senescent human tissues. “AGE-breaking enzymes are a novel and promising therapeutic and I am thrilled to join the team at Revel Pharmaceuticals, the leader in developing an enzyme-based therapy targeting glucosepane and other AGEs, which drive diverse diseases of aging” said Dr. Monnier.
Kizoo leads graduation of Glucosepane crosslink breaker research from top Yale lab into the biotech world
Underdog Pharmaceuticals, Kizoo Technology Capital and SENS Research Foundation today announced the launch of Underdog and the completion of its seed round, providing $3.95 million to promote Underdog’s development of disease-modifying treatments for atherosclerosis and other age-related diseases. SRF also announced two senior appointments.
The Underdog round is led by Michael Greve’s Kizoo Technology Capital, part of the Forever Healthy Group and one of the premier organizations focusing on accelerating rejuvenation biotechnologies. It also includes Oculus co-founder Michael Antonov through Tubus, LLC, and financier Harald McPike through Chambray Worldwide, Ltd.
New York. At the end of March 2019, the US economy had 7.4 million unfilled jobs, but only 6.2 million people were looking for work. This marks the 13th straight month that the number of job openings was higher than the number of job seekers, requiring businesses to compete harder than ever to keep and attract workers. Now, one of the startups that helps employers improve and measure the employee experience of their workforce is announcing a round of funding to help fuel its own rapid growth. Staffbase, the mobile first employee communication and experience platform that creates a single place to go for employees to access information and work-related services, has raised $23 million in new funding.
The investment is led by Insight Partners, the backer of successful businesses including Twitter and Shopify. Existing investors e.ventures, Capnamic Ventures, and Kizoo Technology Capital also participated in the new funding round. Staffbase has now raised a total of $35 million since it was founded in 2014 and was recently listed by Gartner as one of the leaders for employee communication applications.
Mambu, the leading SaaS banking engine announced it has raised €30 million in its latest funding round led by US-based Bessemer Venture Partners, one of the world's most experienced and successful SaaS-focused venture capital firms, with participation also coming from existing investors Acton Capital, CommerzVentures, Point Nine Capital and Runa Capital.
Mambu, which launched in 2011, has experienced triple-digit growth for four consecutive years as an increasing number of challenger and established banks sign on to implement the platform. The funding will accelerate Mambu’s momentum by stepping up investment in both the commercial teams as well as the product, platform and services, resulting in a planned three-fold growth in headcount and six-fold in revenues in the forthcoming years across all regions.
Antoxerene Closes $10 Million Deal with Juvenescence to Develop Small Molecule Drugs for Diseases of Aging
Internet entrepreneur Michael Greve commits $10 million to SENS related research and startups including a $5 million donation over 5 years to SENS Research Foundation