Financing to advance the scientific development of innovative COVID-19 nanobody treatments focused on protecting high-risk immunocompromised individuals
Company developing highly potent antibodies targeting the conserved S1 and S2 regions of SARS-CoV-2
GHENT, Belgium, Jan. 09, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- ExeVir Bio, a biotech company developing robust nanobody therapies for broad protection against infectious diseases, today announced that it has secured a venture debt financing agreement of up to EUR 25M (around USD 26.5m) with the European Investment Bank (EIB)*. The EIB financing will help advance ExeVir’s lead asset, XVR012, into clinical trials for COVID-19.
ExeVir’s COVID-19 development program will focus on development of candidates for both treatment and prophylaxis and will be crucial for protecting the large number of immunocompromised people, approximately 3% of the general Western population , who remain at high risk of severe COVID-19 disease despite availability of current vaccines.
ExeVir leverages its unique, modular llama-derived antibody (VHH) technology platform to generate multi-specific antibodies for prophylaxis and treatment against COVID-19. ExeVir is evaluating highly potent, heavy-chain based antibodies, that are unique in targeting the subunits of the coronavirus spike protein via highly conserved epitopes, S1 and S2. The S2 region is highly conserved, making viral ‘escape variants’ less likely, but it is hard to target with most other approaches. Multiple high potential binders offer the potential of heterodimer binders to the spike protein in one molecule or a cocktail.
Exevir’s candidates demonstrate strong potency and breadth, neutralizing all known previous and current SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern. The Company continues to monitor and screen for neutralization of emerging viral variants of concern. ExeVir’s lead preclinical development candidate, XVR012, will be ready for further clinical development in 2023.
Dr. Torsten Mummenbrauer, CEO of ExeVir, said: “The ExeVir team has quickly developed significant expertise in leveraging its modular nanobody platform to address COVID-19. We are now using that experience to find rapid, effective solutions for new variants of this infectious disease, particularly as interventions to protect and treat the immunocompromised population, that continues to live in fear, have elapsed. COVID-19 has proven to be a devastating and highly unpredictable disease for this most vulnerable population. We are extremely pleased to secure the EIB’s support and endorsement at such a pivotal time for the Company, to ensure this unmet need is addressed in COVID-19 and preparations are in place for future pandemics.”
Fiona du Monceau, COO of ExeVir, said: “This funding from the EIB will support the development of our lead asset, XVR012. It will allow us to advance on our scientific roadmap, as well as help us to pursue our ambitious growth strategy and establish us as a truly European biotech champion combatting infectious diseases with high unmet medical needs. With EIB’s help, we can continue to focus on protecting populations for whom vaccines are not sufficient and who are unable to use antiviral therapies, such as the immunocompromised, as well as on preparing for future pandemics. We aim to bring our first product to market which has the potential to become a critical instrument in the toolbox for combating COVID-19.”
EIB Vice-President Kris Peeters said: “Developing advanced therapeutics for infectious diseases is key to protect our population, especially the most vulnerable. The EIB Group has worked closely with the European Commission to mobilise billions for both the urgent and the long-term response to COVID-19 in recent years. Our support for ExeVir is another example of how the EIB, as the EU bank and a public lender, has backed promising start-ups thanks to the guarantee of the European Union’s InnovFin programme. This programme has enabled us to build momentum in the all-important biotech, medical and health sectors and help create a truly European ecosystem in which innovation flourishes, and focused R&D can generate real benefits for our economies and, ultimately, our citizens.”
* The venture debt loan is part of EIB’s COVID-19 response and is guaranteed by the InnovFin programme under the EU’s Horizon 2020 budget.
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About ExeVir Bio
ExeVir Bio is a clinical stage biotechnology company developing nanobody based therapeutics focusing on infectious diseases. The company is harnessing its llama-derived antibody (VHH) technology platform to generate multi-specific antibodies for prophylaxis and treatment of infectious diseases. ExeVir’s initial focus is on prevention of COVID-19 for the immunocompromised patient population where there remains a high unmet need due to the limitations of current vaccines and therapeutic approaches.
ExeVir’s lead asset, XVR012, is a potent COVID-19 neutralizing antibody that targets the S1 and S2 region of the coronavirus. Both regions are highly conserved region in the virus, meaning it is less likely to mutate into an escape variant. ExeVir has demonstrated it can progress its candidates from research to the clinic in under one year, execute on Phase 1a and Phase 1b studies and conduct scale-up manufacturing. Leveraging this past experience, its XVR012 asset is being developed for regulatory submission in 2023.
VHHs can be linked together like building blocks into a single molecule to tackle different epitopes or act through different mechanisms of actions at once, to address the “arms race” in more complex and co-evolving infectious diseases. VHHs are smaller in size, than whole antibodies, giving them access to hidden epitopes that traditional monoclonal antibodies are unable to reach with potential for deeper tissue penetration and simpler, more cost-effective manufacturing.
ExeVir has initiated research in dengue, a migrating disease becoming an increasing global health burden due to global warming and urbanisation.
ExeVir is a spin out of VIB, the leading Belgium-based life sciences research institute. It is backed by strong investors including Fund+, which led the series A of € 42M, together with an international consortium including UCB Ventures, FPIM, V-Bio Ventures, VIB, SRIW, Noshaq, Vives IUF and SambrInvest. ExeVir has received, support from VLAIO, the SPW-Recherche and the European Union, leading to a total of €16.5M in non-dilutive funding.