The Catalan bioregion is once again in luck. Less than a month after the two associations representing startups in the sector celebrated another year of record funding, one of these companies has closed one of the largest investment rounds in the life sciences and health sector in Spain: the largest in Catalonia.
SpliceBio has raised $57 million (€50 million) in a six-way deal led by Ysios Capital and Belgian fund UCB Ventures, and also including Asabys Partners, US firm New Enterprise Associates, Dutch firm Gilde Healthcare, and Swiss firm Novartis.
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A meteoric start to the year for Barcelona’s entrepreneurial ecosystem
That is also the first major operation of this kind to be agreed by this Barcelona-based biotech, which in 2020 was financed by Ysios and Asabys in a seed round of around one million euros. At that time, the idea was to raise money to finance its change of direction: the company had started operating under the name ProteoDesign and focused on developing technology to modify proteins, but after discovering that it could contribute the most in the area of gene therapy, it changed its name and orientation. Thus, that first monetary injection served to generate the data that have validated its transformation.
Now, this startup, founded at Princeton University (United States), is a gene therapy company that has developed a technological platform to treat diseases that until now had no remedy.
“Gene therapy consists of providing patients with a corrected version of a mutated gene,” explained founders Miquel Vila-Perelló and Silvia Frutos and the company’s chief business officer, Gerard Caelles. “The limitation of current techniques is that they do not work for very large genes, but our technology makes it possible to overcome this limitation and deliver genes that could not be delivered with traditional methods,” they explained. They achieve this by injecting two viruses instead of one, which are reconstituted inside the patient’s cell.
Clinical phase and diversification
With the $57 million (€50 million), SpliceBio aims to bring this strategy to the clinical phase (human trials) in about 2 to 3 years. Its aim is to demonstrate that this approach can slow down rare diseases such as Sterdgart’s disease, which causes degeneration of the retina, loss of vision, and even blindness.
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The funding obtained will also go towards expanding their proposal to other indications. They do not rule out, in the very distant future, when gene therapy in general and their technology, in particular, is ready, approaching other more massive diseases such as cancer or cardiovascular diseases, but for the moment, “the first focus is on minority diseases,” clarifies Vila-Perelló.
“SpliceBio’s platform represents an unprecedented opportunity to expand the universe of diseases that can be addressed with gene therapy,” says Ysios Capital’s managing partner, Joël Jean-Mairet, who in turn highlights what it also means for the environment: “This round is a clear example of the growing potential of Barcelona’s biotech hub,” he concluded. “It is a good testimony of the biotech sector in Barcelona,” agrees the management team behind the start-up.
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First published in elPeriodico, a third-party contributor translated and adapted the article from the original. In case of discrepancy, the original will prevail.
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