Leiden-based biotech startup VarmX has raised seed funding form InnovationQuarter and BioGenerationVentures (BGV). The size of the round is not disclosed, but is around several millions based on industry data.
VarmX is founded by Pieter Reitsman, Professor Emeritus of molecular and experimental medicine at the Leiden University Medical Center. VarmX restores blood clotting in patients using anticoagulants.
Currently millions of patients around the world take factor Xa inhibitors, also called direct oral anti-coagulants to avoid stroke or vein thrombosis. A severe frequent side effect of factor Xa inhibitors is severe bleeding. To date, there is unfortunately no treatment available. VarmX has developed the compound PseudoXa, a new therapeutic protein to stop acute bleeding in patients taking factor Xa inhibitors.
“Innovative research into the properties of a snake venom provided the scientific basis for the factor Xa reversal agent”, says Reitsma, who is now the Chief Scientific Officer, CSO of VarmX. “This is exemplary of the translation of basic research into a potential life-saving therapy.”
The new funding round will enable VarmX to advance the development of PseudoXa, especially by setting up the production process of the drug. “The development of PseudoXa is in the pre-clinical trial phase. It will take up to 2 to 3 years before PseudoXa will be available on the market. The funding will be used to set up de process of testing the drug on animals”, says Reitsma to StartupJuncture.
The company previously received a pre-seed investment of 300.000 euros from Leiden University and the proof-of-concept investment fund UNIIQ. A proof-of-concept fund led by the universities Erasmus MC, Delft University of Technology, University Leiden and InnovationQuarter that was launched last year with 22 million euros assets under management.
BGV has quite a trackrecord in the life sciences investment space. It previously invested and Dezima Pharma. The American multinational biopharmaceutical company Amgen bought Dezima Pharma for 1.5 billion in 2015, just three years after it was founded. It was one of the largest deals ever made in the Dutch biotech industry. BGV was also a ‘founding’ investor in Acerta Pharma. The recordholder for the largest exit ever of a privately held European biotech company. AstraZeneca paid 4 billion for a 55 % stake in the company, Oskar Slotboom, partner at BGV has joined VarmX as its chairman.
Photo Credit: Ciprian Boiciuc