Investment in Spanish healthcare biotech companies
Over the last decade, and especially during the last two years, Spain has seen a significant growth in venture-capital investment in the life sciences and in particular in the Human Healthcare biotech, which is at an inflection point for growth and international recognition.
Following its difficult journey through the global financial crisis, Spain has emerged as a country that has been quietly pressing ahead with a privately-financed agenda of investment in innovation and a growing number of success stories under its belt.
Several Pharma & Biotech Companies are already listed in the Spanish Stock Exchange either in the Continuous Market (“Mercado Continuo”) or in the Alternative Equity Market (“MAB-EE”).
However, the big catalyst for the increasing vitality of Spain’s biotech sector has been an influx of specialized venture capital. Spain now has several local venture capital firms investing in life sciences; the key VCs specializing in the sector are Ysios Capital, Caixa Capital Risc, Inveready, Healthequity, CRB Inverbio, 1nkemia-IUCT Empren, Clave Mayor, Columbus Venture Partners and DCN Ventures.
Moreover, 6 new investment funds have been recently launched: Alta Life Sciences (€175 M), Asabys Partners (€60 M), Uninvest (€40 M), Inveready Biotech III (€25 M), Inkemia Fond-ICO Global (€10 M) and Navarra Tech Transfer Fund (€4.1 M).
According to the latest ASEBIO Report, 27 investment rounds took place in 2017 with an overall size of €93 M. Among these, the biggest were MedLumics (€34.4 M), Anaconda Biomed(€15 M), NIM Genetics (€7 M), Viralgen (€5 M), Peptomyc (€4.2 M) and Vivacell (€3.2 M).
But 2018 looks even better for the Spanish biotech sector. Early in January, the Japanese big pharma Takeda acquired TiGenix (merger of Belgian TiGenix and Spanish Cellerix) for €520M, soon followed by the acquisition of STAT-Dx by Qiagen (€153 M). Both TiGenix and STAT-Dx are investments from Ysios.
Also in January BDi Biotechnology Group closed an investment round of €3.9 M with US Dyadic International Inc and Inveready as main investors and in February, Abac Therapeutics announced the closing of a €16 million Series A round. The financing was led by Pontifax with participation from the Global Health Science Fund (jointly established by Quark Venture Inc. and GF Securities), Caixa Capital Risc, Debiopharm Innovation Fund and the existing investor Ferrer.
Later in July ADL Bionatur closed a capital raise of €12 M and Pangea Oncology, both listed in the MAB-EE announced the closing of a capital raise of €2.5 M. Moreover, in September Histocell announced its capital increase by the Japanese investment fund Cell Innovation Partners and the last news of investments in Spanish Healthcare companies has come from Catalonia, where Minoryx Therapeutics announced the completion of a Series B funding round of €21.3 M led by Fund+, joined by SFPI-FPIM, S.R.I.W. and Sambrinvest, in addition to all Series A investors (Ysios Capital, Kurma Partners, Roche Venture Fund, Idinvest Partners, Chiesi Ventures, Caixa Capital Risc and HealthEquity).
With all this excitement in the sector is not surprising that four Spanish Biotech Companies (Histocell, Mynorix, Ability Pharma and SOM Biotech) are considering listing at Euronext in the near future.
Check-out the network of spanish healthcare companies and its investors here:
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Histocell opens a new production plant and attracts foreign investors
Histocell has inaugurated its new production centre in Larrabetzu, dedicated to the manufacture of medical devices for regenerative medicine. The plant, which required an investment of 1.6 million euros and will initially generate 10 jobs and 30 additional jobs in the coming years, demonstrates the company's commitment to maintaining both its research and manufacturing activities in the Basque Country.
The new manufacturing plant joins the GMP clean room accredited by the Spanish Agency of Medicines and Medical Devices, which is located on the premises of the firm at the Science and Technology Park of Bizkaia in Derio, where Histocell will continue manufacturing its stem cell-based therapy drugs. These drugs are currently in clinical phase trials in several Spanish hospitals. Results from the first patients treated with these cell-based drugs are very promising.
In Larrabetzu, manufacturing will be focused on the line of products for the treatment of hard to heal wounds, Reoxcare, and on the dermocosmetics products, Wharton Gel Complex and Histoessence. Reoxcare is already being marketed in Europe, America, Asia and the Middle East through different distribution agreements, and Osakidetza, the Basque Health Service, is one of Reoxcare’s customers. Rexocare is an innovative wound dressing, unique in the international market, which is produced with materials from natural origin. It has clearly demonstrated its differential value in the healing of complex wounds where other conventional treatments have failed. In the new plant in Larrabetzu, Histocell foresees an annual production of 100,000 units of the dressings, 400 kilograms of the cosmetic ingredient Wharton Gel Complex, and up to 200,000 vials of Histoessence. In total, the company estimates that the products manufactured in the new facilities will reach sales of 6 million euros in 2021.
Capital increase with a Japanese investment fund
The inauguration is not the only business milestone reached by the biopharmaceutical company this year. The company has also significantly increased its capital as the result of the entry of the Japanese investment fund Cell Innovation Partners that specializes in regenerative medicine and cell therapy and whose main partners are the Japanese company Reprocell and bank Shinsei. This is the first investment of this fund in a biopharmaceutical company in Spain. In this financing round, the main current partners of Histocell have also participated.
#Healthcare biotech; #Basque Country
Mitochondrial DNA in exosomes key to initiate antiviral response
CNIC researchers demonstrate that exosomes transferred from T lymphocytes to dendritic cells contain mitochondrial DNA
Researchers at the Centro Nacional de Investigaciones Cardiovasculares Carlos III (CNIC) in Spain have provided valuable information about the defense mechanisms of the immune system during the early stages of the response to pathogens such as viruses and bacteria. The research findings, published in Nature Communications, contribute to the understanding of the cellular processes initiated at early stages and explain how the distinct cell populations of the immune system communicate to mount an effective response against pathogens.
These discoveries contribute to the understanding of the cellular processes initiated during the immune synapse and of how components of the innate and adaptive immune systems communicate to mount an effective response to pathogens.
The CNIC researchers have shown that mitochondrial DNA contained in nanovesicles triggers a state of alertness in recipient cells that activates an antiviral genetic program. These nanovesicles, known as exosomes, are produced by T lymphocytes and taken up by dendritic cells via intercellular contacts.
The immune response against pathogens requires the specific physical interaction between T lymphocytes and antigen presenting cells, especially dendritic cells, through the formation of an immune synapse. During this process, the cells exchange information both through receptor-ligand contacts at the cell surface and through the transfer of exosomes.
The present study was performed by the group led by Professor Francisco Sánchez-Madrid, principal investigator of the Intercellular Communication laboratory at the CNIC, head of the Immunology Service at the Hospital la Princesa, and Professor of Immunology at the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid. In previous work, the group demonstrated that T cells can transfer exosomes to dendritic cells during the formation of the immune synapse. Authors Daniel Torralba and Francesc Baixauli collaborated with other CNIC groups, including the group led by Professor José Antonio Enriquez and the Proteomics and Genomics units. The study also involved contributions from researchers from the Centro de Investigación CIMA in Pamplona and other Spanish centers.
#Healthcare biotech; #Spain; #CNIC