A €62M Series B round announced by the Belgian company AgomAb Therapeutics last week is just the latest sign that the emerging field of regenerative medicine is coming to the fore.
AgomAb has embarked on an ambitious path to redefine how we understand regenerative medicine by harnessing antibodies that kickstart healing and tackle metabolic, inflammatory, and fibrotic conditions. The company’s recent Series B round was led by Redmile Group and included all investors that participated in a Series A that raised €21M two years ago.
The funding is intended to advance into clinical trials AgomAb’s flagship monoclonal antibody, which is inspired by the minuscule antibodies of llamas. The experimental drug mimics the action of the hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) protein, a major promoter of cell growth and division.
The HGF protein has potential applications in numerous conditions, but it doesn’t last long in the blood. To overcome this issue, AgomAb is developing monoclonal antibodies using antibody technology from its compatriot company argenx. This technology provides the drugs both greater stability and greater ability to target specific human tissues than current approaches using the same biochemical pathways.
“The idea of regenerative medicine has been around for some time. However, achieving functional tissue recovery is a very complex undertaking,” said Tim Knotnerus, AgomAb’s CEO. “This significant financing from these highly respected US investors emphasizes the increasing interest in the regenerative medicine field.”
The deal comes as funding is exploding in the regenerative medicine niche, especially for companies developing cell and gene therapies. Global financing for companies in this space broke records in the first three quarters of 2020 with a haul of €13.3B ($15.9B). The global market for regenerative therapies is also expected to triple in size between 2019 and 2025. AgomAb’s hefty round is widely seen as a positive signal for other companies in regenerative medicine.
“The size of the Series B is considerable for preclinical-stage evidence. I congratulate the team and look forward to following AgomAb’s IND-enabling and clinical proof-of-concept studies,” said Evelina Vågesjö, co-founder and CEO of the Swedish gene therapy biotech Ilya Pharma.
Ilya Pharma explores new approaches to using immunotherapy in regenerative medicine. It engineers bacteria called lactobacilli to guide immune cells to a wound and accelerate the healing process. In January, the company reported positive phase I results of its lead candidate and plans to kick off phase II testing in the next few months.
Among other notable recent events in regenerative medicine, Belgium’s Novadip received a nod from the US FDA earlier this month to begin human trials of its cell therapy targeting bone regeneration, while US-based Elastrin Therapeutics, which seeks to reverse cardiovascular disease with the use of nanotechnology, received seed funding from the German VC fund Kizoo.
“It is always great to see investments and it is important for the whole biotech and pharma scene in Europe,” Vågesjö added.
Biotech stocks in general have been booming amid the Covid-19 pandemic and sectors that are at the forefront of fighting the virus or alleviating the effects of inflammation on the body, such as immunology, gene and cell therapy, and medical cannabinoids, have seen a particularly rapid influx of funds. Llama-derived monoclonal antibodies against the Covid-19 virus also earned the Belgian firm Exevir a €23M Series A last year, which was extended to hit €42M today.
Cover image from Elena Resko
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