Biotech start-up INAGEN raises capital to new virus treatment
New Danish biotech company INAGEN has just received DKK 5 million in funding from Novo A/S and CAT. This investment will enable the company to take its unique and proprietary technology for the treatment of Cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection into the pre-clinical testing phase. The technology carries a market potential of US$ 500 million annually in the USA alone.
More than 50 percent of all adults are infected with Cytomegalovirus without knowing it, since the virus does not produce the disease in healthy people.
However, dormant CMV can suddenly be reactivated in immunocompromised patients, and this occurs in approximately half of all organ transplant recipients treated with immunosuppressive drugs. CMV infection plays a significant role in graft rejection in solid organ transplants and can lead to the death of the patient.
INAGEN was founded at the end of 2007 with an investment from CAT, has recently discovered a unique concept for the treatment of CMV infection. And despite the global financial crisis, the company has now attracted a DKK 5 million investment from Novo A/S and CAT.
“65,000 organ transplant patients are infected with CMV each year. Treatment costs between US$ 30,000-50,000 annually just to keep CMV infection under control. This means that the existing market potential in the USA alone is over US$500 million each year,” explains Thomas Kledal, CEO of INAGEN.
“We have been following INAGEN since start-up and are pleased that this investment will support the work leading up to the final pre-clinical results," states Leif Helth Jensen, Investment Manager at CAT Science Park.
“This injection of capital will allow INAGEN to take the project into the pre-clinical phase, where both the effect and the safety of the treatment can be thoroughly tested. We believe that this technology holds tremendous promise for the treatment of CMV-infected organ transplant patients, among others," says Stephan Christgau, Investment Director of Novo Seeds, the early stage investment program of Novo A/S.
Defence goes on the offensive
INAGEN’s research is based on the discovery that CMV infection and other viruses form certain proteins on the surface of the cells they infect.
“The virus causes the cell to produce these proteins for the purpose of inhibiting the immune response from eradicating the infected cell. But we can use the protein to act as a sort of antenna for the cell which we can then target specifically with immunotoxins, ensuring the death of the infected cell,” explains Thomas Kledal, who continues:
“Our technology consists of creating a substance that binds firmly to the protein on the surface of the cells infected with CMV in the organism. By combining a toxin with this substance, we can kill the infected cells and clear the CMV infection from the body,” says Thomas Kledal.
For further information about INAGEN:
Thomas Kledal, INAGEN CEO; E-mail: tk@INAGEN.com, Tel.: +45 2877 2749
For further information about the investors:
Stephan Christgau, Novo Seeds, Novo A/S; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, Tel.: +45 4442 4552
Leif Helth Jensen, CAT; E-mail: email@example.com, Tel.: +45 4052 0787
About the investors
CAT Science Park
CAT Science Park is a unique combination of science park, venture company and research environment. CAT invests in knowledge-based enterprises in the initial development stage that exhibit significant growth potential. A percentage of the funding is provided by the Danish Agency for Science Technology and Innovation under the Danish Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation.
Novo Seeds is a life science supporting program launched by the Novo Nordisk Foundation and Novo A/S. Novo Seeds has two components, a pre-seed funding capacity and a seed financing fund. Both aim at identifying and developing the unexplored commercial potential present in academic and early stage applied research projects at universities and biotech companies within life science in Scandinavia.
Novo A/S, the holding company in the Novo Group, was established prior to the de-merger of Novo Nordisk in 2000. Novo A/S is a private limited liability company fully owned by the Novo Nordisk Foundation. Besides being the majority shareholder in Novo Nordisk A/S and Novozymes A/S, Novo A/S provides seed and venture capital to development stage companies within life science and biotechnology, as well as manages a broad portfolio of financial assets. For further information visit www.novo.dk