ExeVir Bio has received a cash infusion of $27 million to advance its COVID-19 treatment to clinical trials.
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The round was led by Fund+, with the participation of VIB, UCB Ventures, the Belgian Federal Government via SFPI-FPIM, V-Bio Ventures and several Belgian family offices. As part of the investment, Torsten Mummenbrauer, CEO of ExeVir Bio, Philippe Monteyne, partner at Fund+, Erica Whittaker, head of UCB Ventures, Jérôme Van Biervliet, managing director at VIB and Katja Rosenkranz, partner at V-Bio, will join ExeVir Bio’s board.
Mummenbrauer said in a written statement that the new financing will enable the company to “rapidly advance the development of our lead compound into clinical studies by the end of the year. We are confident our llama-derived antibodies hold a key to saving the lives of patients who can become seriously ill with coronavirus.”
Founded by VIB, UCB Ventures and Fund+, Belgium-based ExeVir Bio is harnessing a llama-derived antibody technology platform to generate robust antiviral therapies providing broad protection against coronaviruses.
Llama-derived single-domain antibodies were shown to neutralize SARS-CoV-2 in preclinical studies and SARS-CoV-1 in in vitro assays, the company said. Due to llama antibodies being smaller than human antibodies, they can attach to parts of the coronavirus that would otherwise be inaccessible, according to ExeVir Bio.
It’s lead candidate, VHH72-Fc, binds to a unique epitope–the part of a molecule to which an antibody attaches itself–in SARS-CoV-1 and SARS-CoV-2 viruses, preventing them from entering the cell, according to the company. If the candidate is viable, it could be used for both a therapeutic and prophylactic, the company said.
Illustration: Dom Guzman