Berlin, Germany - Michael Greve, founder of the Forever Healthy Foundation and owner of Kizoo Technology Ventures, announced today that he will make available an additional €300 million to be invested in rejuvenation biotech.
The funds, to be deployed via Kizoo, will be used to create and support more startups in the rejuvenation space. They will also allow Kizoo to maintain a strong commitment to its key startups during follow-up rounds and to advance the therapies from clinical development to public availability.
With this €300 million commitment, Michael Greve and Kizoo double down on their mission to accelerate the advent of rejuvenation biotechnology by doing lighthouse investments in entirely new, repair-based approaches that treat the root causes of aging and thus overcome age-related diseases. Through the creation of successful companies, they seek to inspire scientists, investors, and the general public by demonstrating that human rejuvenation is not science fiction anymore and that the resulting therapies are affordable and uncomplicated.
Technologies pioneered by Kizoo's startups include removal of arterial plaque, decalcification of aged tissue, breaking of protein-glucose cross-links, and delivery of new mitochondria to aged cells - all aiming to prevent and repair common age-related conditions such as myocardial infarction, stroke, high blood pressure, tissue stiffening, skin aging, and loss of muscle function.
"I am really grateful that we can use the funds we have created with our highly successful technology ventures to contribute to the quest to get aging under full medical control and to make age-related diseases a thing of the past. For me, it is a worthy cause that is exciting in a technological, commercial, and above all, a humanitarian way" says Michael Greve.
He expects that the new funds, in combination with the strong, multi-round commitment of Kizoo to its key startups, should trigger co-investments of up to 3-4 times the initial amount, resulting in a significant acceleration of the development and public availability of the therapies.
Elastrin Therapeutics strengthens its leadership team by appointing Pedro M. Quintana Diez, MD as Chief Medical Officer
Clemson SC, USA / Berlin, Germany - Elastrin Therapeutics Inc., a privately held biotechnology company leveraging a platform technology to develop therapeutics that render calcified tissue and organs supple again, announced the appointment of Pedro M. Quintana Diez, MD as Chief Medical Officer. Pedro will be responsible for the clinical and regulatory strategy, planning, and execution of the company’s clinical development plans.
“We are delighted to bring someone with Pedro’s impressive expertise and experience on board during this exciting time for Elastrin,” said Dr. Matthias Breugelmans, Chief Executive Officer at Elastrin Therapeutics. “His deep knowledge of cardiovascular research and medicine from both an industry and academic perspective is a strong addition to Elastrin preparing for clinical trials. His experience developing early-stage programs into commercial products will be instrumental developing our novel therapies to reverse cardiovascular disease during the next years” declared Prof. Naren Vyavahare, Chief Scientific Officer at Elastrin Therapeutics.
“Elastrin's unique approach to the cardiovascular field represents a new wave of breakthrough regenerative therapies for the most life-threatening conditions that have the potential to reverse the course of the disease, that I am extremely excited to be a part of,” said Pedro M. Quintana Diez, M.D., Chief Medical Officer at Elastrin Therapeutics. “I look forward to continuing the development of our lead compound ETI-001 and working to expand the company’s pipeline.”
Pedro M. Quintana Diez, M.D., is an internal medicine doctor with over 20 years of clinical development experience in the international biotech and pharmaceutical industry. Prior to joining Elastrin Therapeutics, Pedro served as Chief Medical Officer of Sensory Sciences LLC and held VP and leadership positions at Grunenthal, Abbvie and ParinGenix, where he developed clinical strategies and plans across all phases of clinical development, through life-cycle management key decisions. Before serving in these positions, Pedro managed Phase II and III developments in cardiovascular and lung diseases. His experience submitting INDs and CTAs, as well as his solid experience in respiratory and inflammation research will add further value to the company’s pipeline.
“Elastrin will benefit massively from Pedro’s decades of expertise in the cardiovascular space and soon prove rejuvenation therapies in humans are real” affirmed Patrick Burgermeister, Board Member at Elastrin Therapeutics and Partner at lead investor Kizoo.
Chemnitz / Munich / New York – Staffbase, a leading provider of digital solutions for internal communications, and General Atlantic, a global growth equity firm, today announced a strategic partnership. General Atlantic is leading a $145 million (€122 million) financing round in the Chemnitz, Germany-based start-up to help the company grow internationally and strengthen its global leadership in the employee engagement space. Existing investors Insight Partners and e.ventures will also contribute to this round of financing, KIZOO and Capnamic Ventures remain invested. As part of the partnership, Achim Berg, Operating Partner at General Atlantic and President of Bitkom, Germany’s digital association, will join the advisory board of Staffbase.
Established in Chemnitz in 2014, Staffbase has become a high-growth, multi-award-winning provider of an internal communications suite, including an employee app, an internal email newsletter tool, and a state-of-the-art intranet platform – all of which are designed to enhance employee communications. Its products are used by over eight million people across more than 1,000 organizations. Staffbase’s customers include global enterprises and organizations such as Adidas, Audi, BHP, Deutsche Post DHL, Groupon, Hitachi, Ikea, Johns Hopkins University, McKesson, Paulaner, Suncor, Viessmann, and Volvo, among others.
The Staffbase platform enables companies to communicate quickly and effectively with all of their employees – whether through corporate-branded communications, the publication of news items in a fast and reliable manner, or effectively measuring communications activities. The company’s solutions allow for more effective onboarding and enhanced employee engagement, and help employees identify more closely with their employers. The COVID-19 pandemic and proliferation of hybrid working environments have underscored the importance of targeted and agile internal communications, with senior management at major companies increasingly viewing internal communications as an essential strategic tool for connecting with employees and guiding them through this period of digital transformation.
Dr. Martin Böhringer, Co-Founder and CEO of Staffbase, said, “Our vision is to unite all of a company’s employees through strong internal communications and a shared mission. To bring this about, we provide managers and communications specialists at enterprise companies with the leading digital platform for successful employee communications – a platform that we are expanding very rapidly. The partnership with General Atlantic will further help us achieve this and accelerate our growth, especially in North America. The strong local team and the expertise it provides are decisive for us.”
Dr. Christian Figge, Managing Director at General Atlantic, continued, “Staffbase is a global pioneer and has developed software that specifically addresses the employee experience, supporting enterprises in transforming internal communications and engagement. We have been following this exciting company for quite some time and are looking forward to partnering with Martin and the Staffbase team to build on the business’ position as a global market leader. Staffbase is a prime example of the quality of entrepreneurship and range of innovative companies with global ambitions emerging out of Germany.”
Staffbase has a global workforce of 450 employees throughout 11 locations, including its headquarters in Chemnitz and offices in London, New York, Vancouver, Amsterdam, and Berlin. In early March, the company merged with Bananatag, Canada’s leading provider of internal communications solutions. The combined company is one of the world’s largest and fastest-growing providers of cutting-edge internal communications software. As a result of the merger, the Staffbase suite with an employee app and intranet was expanded to include a native solution for email communications and closer integration with collaboration tools like Slack and Microsoft 365, including Microsoft Teams and SharePoint.
Michael Greve about KIZOO Technology Capital's approach to "Investing in Rejuvenation Biotechnology" at the National University of Singapore webinar hosted by Prof. Brian Kennedy (starts at 7:47)
Kizoo provides seed funding for Elastrin Therapeutics to develop groundbreaking new technology capable of reversing tissue and organ calcification
Clemson SC, USA / Berlin, Germany - Elastrin is a biotechnology startup leveraging a platform technology to develop therapeutics that render calcified tissue and organs supple again.
It is the latest addition to the growing portfolio of Kizoo Technology Capital; a rejuvenation biotech investor focused on reversing age-related damage on a cellular and molecular level.
Elastrin’s lead asset is a nanoparticle conjugated with a novel monoclonal antibody to treat heart valve and vascular calcification.
“Elastin fibers are critical for the homeostasis of tissues around the body, including the skin, vasculature, and pulmonary tissues. As elastin fibers become damaged over time, arterial walls weaken, and the body’s physiological response results in aortic wall stiffening, aneurysms, and hypertension,” said Prof. Naren Vyavahare, Chief Scientific Officer at Elastrin Therapeutics.
The Elastrin team has developed a platform that can restore vascular health by removing pathological calcification, specifically from sites where elastin has been degraded. This is achieved via targeting albumin nanoparticles loaded with therapeutic agents directly to the tissue site of interest with the company’s proprietary anti-elastin monoclonal antibody. “This targeted delivery promises to improve the efficacy of therapeutic payloads as well as reduce side effects due to otherwise systemic administration. In addition, the nanoparticles result in slower release characteristics that improve the biodistribution of pharmaceuticals at the targeted exposure site,” said Douglas Mulhall, co-founder of Elastrin Therapeutics.
“Cardiovascular diseases are the number one cause of death globally, taking an estimated 18 million lives each year. On top of that, everyone above 30 years old is suffering from damage to the cardiovascular system, resulting in severe symptoms one day. Our technology can reverse damage to the arteries and heart and bring the body back to a state before the damage even occurred. This is a true game-changer in the industry and one of the puzzle pieces towards healthy aging. Nobody wants to live forever in an old and sick body, but we do want to live long in a healthy one,” said Matthias Breugelmans, CEO of Elastrin.
“We are proud to help Elastrin to open a new category in repairing significant damage of aging – tissue calcification and the damage to elastin fibers. This will allow for substantial rejuvenation of the cardiovascular system and restore organ function & skin elasticity to youthful levels,” says Frank Schueler, Managing Director of Kizoo Technology Capital.
“I am honored to be part of this highly ambitious endeavor to rejuvenate the circulatory system with a technology platform that has far-reaching potential,” said Patrick Burgermeister, Partner at Kizoo Technology Capital who will join the company’s Board of Directors.
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