Press Release: Neovacs Raises 13 Million Euros with the Novartis Venture Fund and Truffle Capital
Neovacs Raises 13 Million Euros with the Novartis Venture Fund and Truffle Capital PARIS, July 18, 2007 - Neovacs, a biotech company pioneering the development of anti-cytokine and anti-viral regulation protein therapeutic vaccines for the treatment of certain cancers and inflammatory diseases, today announced a major Ã¢â€šÂ¬13 million share capital increase with the Novartis Venture Fund as the lead investor. Truffle Capital, an investor and majority shareholder since 2003, has reinvested Ã¢â€šÂ¬4 million in Neovacs. The Novartis Venture Fund and Truffle Capital are likely to invite one or two additional investors onboard in the coming months. Neovacs is currently developing a broad portfolio of several promising therapeutic vaccines based on its patented, active anti-cytokine and anti-viral protein immunization technologies. Two products have already been tested in clinical trials: Tat toxoid, Neovacs' first anti-HIV therapeutic vaccine, and interferon alpha (IFN?) kinoid, a cytokinic immunogen which induces the production of neutralizing anti-interferon ? antibodies. The latter has been assessed in pilot clinical trials where induction of neutralizing anti-IFN? antibodies was observed in around 200 HIV-infected patients, with good long-term tolerance. The interferon ? kinoid is currently being studied in murine models of systemic lupus erythematosus, with positive results having been presented at the 8th International Congress on Lupus which took place from May 23rd Ã¢â‚¬â€œ 27th 2007 in Shanghai (China). Two other products, TNF? kinoid and VEGF kinoid, are due to enter clinical trials following promising results in animal models of rheumatoid arthritis and certain cancers. These results were recently described in articles published in the prestigious journal PNAS ("TNF alpha kinoid vaccination-induced neutralizing antibodies to TNF alpha protect mice from autologous TNFalpha-driven chronic and acute inflammation", Le Buanec H. et al. (2006) PNAS 103:19442-19447; "VEGF kinoid vaccine, a therapeutic approach against tumor angiogenesis and metastasis" Haghighi Rad F. et al. (2007) PNAS 104:2837-2842). Kinoid vaccines target serious, chronic pathologies. TNF? kinoid targets rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn's disease and psoriasis. Several anti-TNF? drugs are already on the market and their combined sales exceed $10 billion. In the case of VEGF kinoid, the anticipated target pathologies include certain tumors and age-related macular degeneration. The specific anti-VEGF drugs currently on the market posted combined sales of over $2 billion in 2006, and this figure is set to rise to over $10 million by 2010, according to certain analysts. Systemic lupus erythematosus (for which the interferon ? kinoid is being developed) has not seen a new treatment launched in the last 30 years and affects around 300,000 people in the Western world. The kinoid technology seeks to induce the production of specific anti-cytokine antibodies in the patient and thus reduce excessive cytokine levels. For example, an excess of TNF alpha leads to an inflammatory reaction in rheumatoid arthritis and Crohn's disease, whereas VEGF stimulates the formation of blood vessels involved in tumor growth and metastasis. Kinoid vaccines may constitute an advantageous new generation of immunotherapeutics when compared with monoclonal antibodies, which have to be administered frequently and to which patients often develop resistance. This new round of funding will enable Neovacs to rapidly initiate clinical trials of several of its products in the field of inflammatory disease and cancer. Ã¢â‚¬Å“This active support from the Novartis Venture Fund and Truffle Capital will boost our product development activity, with clinical trials planned in the months to come for TNF? kinoid, followed by VEGF kinoid and interferon alpha kinoid. Financial support from the Novartis Venture Fund and Truffle Capital confirms the success of our ongoing corporate strategy and reinforces our very innovative scientific and medical approach", stated Guy-Charles Fanneau de La Horie, Neovacs' CEO. He added: "Neovacs' goal is to become the acknowledged leader in anticytokine therapeutic vaccines within the next 2 to 3 years". Florent Gros from the Novartis Venture Fund (lead investor in this new round of funding) commented: "Neovacs is developing a very promising portfolio of active immunotherapies, and so we are delighted to help support a commercial and scientific project which meets the needs of so many patients". Ã¢â‚¬Å“We are continuing to invest in Neovacs because we believe in its technology and its medical & commercial potential", emphasized Philippe Pouletty MD, CEO of Truffle Capital.