Authored by James Sheppard
As part of Liftstream’s commitment to rare diseases, in the run up to Rare Disease Day 2013 we will be profiling 10 companies that are highly active in rare disease research. In the sixth in the series we look at the Belgian company Promethera Biosciences. Promethera sits in the BioWin biotech cluster in the Mons/Wallonia area of Belgium.
Promethera Biosciences was a spin out of the Universite Catholique de Louvain and was set up in order to develop and commercialise allogenic stem cell technology. Promethera’s main therapeutic product is HepStem. HepStem is a cell therapy designed to treat severe diseases of the liver including: Crigler-Najjar, Phenylketonuria and Liver fibrosis. The Crigler-Najjar program is currently the most advanced with phase I/II trials beginning in Q1 2012. This clinical trial was a landmark for stem cell therapy as it was the first trial to apply allogenic liver progenitor cells.
Promethera has enjoyed a number of recent investment successes, the most recent being the completion, in March 2012, of series B funding worth $31.4m. This funding round attracted a number of corporate venture capital arms including Boehringer Ingelheim and Shire. The funding has allowed Promethera to go ahead with Phase I/II clinical studies in Belgium and the UK for HepaStem. Promethera’s first funding round was in 2009 with €5.3m. Funding rounds in recent years have allowed Promethera to achieve a number of key milestones such as developing manufacturing facilities with GMP accreditation and growing the company from 2 to 40 full time staff. With the new round of funding and successful clinical development programmes growth looks set to continue.
Promethera now has the ability to push on and develop a truly innovative stem cell therapy. The early proof of concept and 3 animal models have demonstrated very promising outcomes and the results from the ongoing phase I/II trial are eagerly awaited. Under the leadership of stem cell veteran Eric Halioua and hepatology expert Professor Etienne Sokal, Promethera have developed a solid leadership team with expert knowledge and the capability to draw in investors. Promethera reports the data from their HepaStem phase I/II trials in H2 2013. Professor Sokal recently stated ‘This first study represents a major step in the development of HepaStem towards a therapy that could transform positively the prognosis of the disease.’ Results from this trial are eagerly awaited by not only the Hepatology community but the wider regenerative medicine industry.
Liftstream is supporting Rare Disease Day 2013. In profiling this company we hope to bring greater awareness to rare diseases and the companies working in this area. Liftstream is sponsoring the 2013 Orphan Drug Congress and we look forward to having contact with you at these events or by contacting us via Linkedin or Twitter