Cardiff, UK and Hasselt, Belgium: 29 September 2015 − Apitope, the drug discovery and development company focused on treating the underlying cause of autoimmune diseases, today announces it has successfully raised €12 million in a Series B financing. The round was led by new investor Wales Life Sciences Fund. Current investors Vesalius Biocapital, LRM, PMV and Wyvern also participated in the round. Existing shareholders include the Wellcome Trust. Brenig Preest, Wales Life Sciences Fund, will join the Apitope board.
The funds will enable Apitope to progress the clinical development of its innovative pipeline which includes therapies for Factor VIII intolerance in Haemophilia A patients and Graves' disease. Apitope will relocate its UK headquarters to Wales.
Apitope, whose first product candidate is licensed to Merck Serono, will now progress its remaining portfolio of product candidates developed with its proprietary platform technology.
Apitope's lead product candidate, ATX-F8-117, has recently received orphan designations in both Europe and USA and targets Haemophillia A. This potential front line therapy for patients with Factor VIII inhibitors is thought to be of huge strategic value with the prospective to replace current therapies in a $4 billion plus market.
Dr Keith Martin, CEO of Apitope, commented: "We are very pleased to have attracted investment from the Wales Life Sciences Fund and appreciate the commitment of our existing investors and their ongoing support. The funding will enable us to progress development of our product ATX-F8-117, which received Orphan Drug Designation from both the US FDA and the EMA highlighting the need for an effective treatment for Haemophilia A patients developing Factor VIII inhibitors. The funds will also enable us to progress our candidate for the treatment of Graves' disease which impacts over 7.5 Million people worldwide."
Brenig Preest, Investment Director, Wales Life Sciences Fund and newly appointed to the Apitope board, added: "We were impressed with Apitope's growth to date and strongly believe in the company's approach in treating autoimmune diseases. I look forward to working with the highly experienced senior management team to develop treatments against autoimmune diseases with high unmet medical needs. Relocating Apitope's UK headquarters will contribute to the growing and the vibrant life sciences sector in Wales."
Stéphane Verdood, Chairman of the Apitope Board, added: "We welcome the investment from the Wales Life Sciences Fund and Brenig Preest to the board. This series B funding is strong endorsement of Apitope's technology for the treatment of autoimmune diseases and its promising treatments for Factor VIII inhibitors as well as Graves' disease."
Haemophilia A is a rare chronic bleeding disorder which leads to inadequate clotting of the blood in response to any type of injury or surgery. It is a genetic disorder that causes missing or defective Factor VIII, an essential blood-clotting protein. Haemophilia A patients are normally treated with Factor VIII tohelp with the clotting of their blood. However, since these patients' immune systems have had no or low exposure to Factor VIII, they are often not fully tolerant to the replacement Factor VIII used to treat their condition. Consequently, up to 30 per cent of these patients develop Factor VIII inhibitor antibodies.
Graves' disease is an autoimmune disorder that affects over 7.5 Million people worldwide. Patients with Graves' disease typically develop goitre and serious medical issues such as increased heart rate, muscle weakness, disturbed sleep, and irritability. It affects multiple systems of the body, including the skin, heart, circulation and nervous system with potential long term morbidity. Some 30-50% of Graves' disease patients develop the medically challenging Graves' orbitopathy characterised by bulging eyes (proptosis), while 3-5% of such patients suffer from a sight-threatening form of Graves' orbitopathy.