Pharmaceutical groups Boehringer Ingelheim and Shire as well as Japanese conglomerate Mitsui’s corporate venturing unit and ATMI have helped Promethera Biosciences, a Belgium-based cell therapy company, raise €17m ($22.7m). The companies were joined in the series B round on Wednesday by Belgium-based venture capital firm SambrInvest. The Walloon Region, which has backed the company since it was founded, has also provided a loan of €6.6m to support its clinical development for its cell therapy product, HepaStem, which is a treatment for severe liver defects. In October 2009 the company raised €5.3m in series A financing, in the year the company was founded The company said it had "successfully transferred and scaled up its production process developed at Université Catholique de Louvain into a larger-scale pharmaceutical operation." The five investors joined the investors in the company’s A round, venture funds Vesalius Biocapital, Vives-Louvain Technology Fund, Life Science Research Partners, Luxembourgeoise, SRIW, a development agency, and Sopartec (Université Catholique de Louvain ‘s technology transfer company), as well as several business angels. Etienne Sokal, chief scientific officer at Promethera Biosciences and director of Université Catholique de Louvain’s cell therapy research lab, said: "There is a real need for medical innovation to treat metabolic diseases in children; too many diseases are still intractable. The first HepaStem studies represent a major step towards, we hope, eventually transforming the prognosis of these diseases." Ilka Wicke, director at the Boehringer Ingelheim Venture fund, said: "We believe that Promethera HepaStem has (even though early in development) significant potential to treat metabolic liver diseases and we are looking forward to working with the company now and in the future."
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Corporates pour $22.7m into Belgian uni spin-out
Apr 2, 2012 • Toby Lewis
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