Enterome has announced a first closing of a series A funding round, raising EUR five million. This funding follows a previous seed round that raised EUR 1.5 million from Seventure Partners (Natixis) and INRA Transfert.
The series A round has brought in Seventure and Lundbeckfond Ventures, as new co-lead investors. Seventure is one of the most active European investors in venture capital investing in life sciences and information and communication technologies.
Lundbeckfond Ventures is a pure life science venture fund investing in companies in Europe and the US.
The amount raised will enable Enterome to fulfil several objectives. Firstly, Enterome will validate its proprietary biomarkers and translate them into high value medical diagnostics and to commercialize it as laboratory developed test services in the US and EU.
The company also plans to initiate industrial partnerships (in the pharmaceutical and the nutrition fields) to strengthen its development capabilities.
Enterome’s two lead projects are in non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and in inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD).
The new management team is highly experienced and made up of a blend of former founders and executives of Fovea Pharmaceuticals (acquired by Sanofi in 2009) and biomarkers specialists. Bernard Gilly was also appointed as the new chairman of the board.
“The series A round investors - Seventure and Lundbeckfond Ventures - were specifically attracted to Enterome due to the unique nature of its technology, the close relationship to INRA and the opportunity to create unique biomarker diagnostic products meeting unmet medical and market needs,” said Pierre Belichard, CEO, Enterome.
Belichard continued, “Research by Enterome’s scientific founders has improved understanding of the human microbiota composition to the point of now allowing development of powerful new biomarkers and associated therapeutics. This technology was elected as one of top five scientific breakthroughs of 2011 by the journal Science.”
The human intestine harbors an incredible number of bacteria, the gut microbiota, encoding 150-fold more genes than the human genome. Each individual has his own personal and unique microbiota, with a large diversity between individuals.
Over the last five years, physicians and researchers have proved the undisputed role of gut microbiota in the development of various diseases, especially metabolic disorders and inflammatory bowel diseases.
These diseases affect 25 per cent of the western world population, with NASH, the most harmful, diagnosed in two to three per cent of the population globally.
Enterome’s technology was developed initially at the INRA (Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique) by Dusko Ehrlich at Jouy-en-Josas, France.
Enterome has entered into a collaboration agreement with INRA, providing the company with exclusive access to discoveries made using this metagenomic platform in selected human pathologies including type II diabetes, liver and bowel diseases.
“Measurement and modulation of the gut microbiota’s role in health and disease presents the opportunity to impact medicine in an entirely new and unexplored way,” said Dusko Ehrlich, scientific founder of Enterome and leader of the metaHIT European consortium.
“We are particularly pleased to see one of our main research assets being translated into a company and financed by an international group of investors,” said Gérard Jacquin, president of INRA Technology Transfer organization. “Enterome is a key element in our Metagenopolis organization, a center for excellence in metagenomics of the human gut microbiota developed at INRA.”
“I am particularly proud to see Enterome developing, helped by the strong and longstanding relationship Seventure has established with INRA,” said Isabelle de Cremoux, CEO of Seventure subsidiary of Natixis.
“We are impressed by the Enterome leadership and are very confident that Enterome will translate this very innovative platform into valuable diagnostic and therapeutic tools,” said Johan Kordel from Lundbeckfond Ventures.
Emmanuelle Porte and Sylvie Hamel, specializing in venture capital and private equity at Nixon Peabody, acted as legal advisors for Enterome in this series A funding round.