French startup Vivet Therapeutics raised €37.5 million (about $41 million) in a Series A round of financing to support the development of gene therapies for rare inherited metabolic diseases. The firm was set up in 2016 to develop treatments based on adeno-associated virus (AAV) vector technology licensed exclusively from its close collaborator, the Fundación para la Investigación Médica Aplicada (FIMA), at the Center for Applied Medical Research (CIMA) in Pamplona, Spain, and from Massachusetts Eye and Ear (MEE) in Boston.
Novartis Venture Fund and Columbus Venture Partners led the Series A investment round. Roche Venture Fund, HealthCap, Kurma Partners, and Ysios Capital also participated. Florent Gros, managing director at Novartis Venture Fund, commented, “We have searched extensively for next-generation AAV technologies and clinical applications. We are very excited by Vivet Therapeutics' clinical and commercial prospects; the company has outstanding management, assets, and capabilities.”
Based in Paris, and with a wholly owned subsidiary in Spain, Vivet aims to develop gene therapies targeting disorders including Wilson disease, progressive familial intrahepatic cholestasis (PFIC), and citrullinemia. The firm is using a novel, synthetic AAV, AAV-Anc80, to introduce genes into hepatocytes. Lead Wilson disease gene therapy program VTX801 comprises a truncated, functional version of the defective ATP7B gene, delivered directly into liver cells using the AAV vector technology. First-in-human trials with VTX801 are projected to start by the end of 2018.
Jean-Philippe Combal, Pharm.D., Ph.D., Vivet co-founder and CEO, noted, “Early results from preclinical studies with VTX801 are very promising, and we are now well funded to advance this candidate into the clinic, while developing our portfolio and technologies.”
Vivet's co-founders include Combal (ex-Gensight Biologics, Sanofi), Jens Kurth, Ph.D. (ex-Anokion, Novartis), and Gloria González-Aseguinolaza, Ph.D. (CIMA, University of Navarra). On announcement of Series A fundraising, Gloria González-Aseguinolaza, Vivet CSO, said, “By collaborating with leading institutions such as CIMA in Spain and MEE in the United States, Vivet has secured superior and novel gene therapy technologies and liver disease expertise. We believe these capabilities, combined with the international development expertise of the management team, create a company with very exciting prospects.”