Genticel has announced that it has raised EUR 18.2 million (USD 23.7 million) in additional capital. Wellington Partners, based in Munich, Germany, led the round which included all current institutional investors i.e. IDInvest Partners, Edmond de Rothschild Investment Partners (EdRIP), InnoBio fund, IRDI and Amundi Private Equity Funds.
Dr. Rainer Strohmenger, general partner at Wellington Partners, joins the supervisory board of Genticel.
Genticel is a France-based vaccine developer that focuses on therapeutic vaccines against high risk human papillomavirus (HPV) infection.
The company has been spearheading the development of vaccine solutions for women infected with high-risk HPV types (16 and 18) but who have not yet progressed to cervical high grade lesions or cancer.
Today, no therapeutic options are available for this very large population of women whose medical need has only recently been revealed by the increasing availability of HPV screening.
These tests are rapidly being adopted in first line cervical cancer screening programs in the USA and Europe.
The first preventive vaccines against high risk HPV 16/18 infections were introduced into global markets as of 2006 and have seen widespread adoption.
However, there is still no effective treatment against established infection with high-risk HPV types.
ProCervix, Genticel’s lead product is a unique proprietary HPV16/18 vaccine for the treatment of infected women who have not yet developed high-grade cervical lesions or cancer. ProCervix is designed to eliminate HPV16 and/or 18 infected cells.
The new funds will be used to advance Genticel’s key product candidates, i.e., two therapeutic HPV vaccines. The lead vaccine, ProCervix, has successfully finished phase I clinical study.
The phase I trial (n=47) revealed no dose limiting toxicity and no patient drop-out. In addition, ProCervix induced a dose-dependent immune response as well as viral clearance in a substantially larger percentage of patients as compared to placebo.
ProCervix will enter into phase II development in order to demonstrate proof of efficacy. This bivalent product, built on Genticel’s proprietary CyaA antigen delivery technology, carries antigens originating from both HPV16 and HPV18.
Genticel’s other pipeline product is a CyaA-based multivalent HPV vaccine with additional virus subtype coverage.
“The commitment from Wellington Partners, one of the most reputable life science investors in Europe, is further endorsement of Genticel’s therapeutic HPV vaccine development,” said Benedikt Timmerman, founder and CEO of Genticel.
Timmerman continued, “The Wellington life science team members are bringing outstanding clinical development and medical expertise to our shareholder base, both from therapeutic vaccines and from cervical cancer screening. They have immediately understood the unique properties of our lead product ProCervix. This investment will allow us to take ProCervix through a multi-center multi-national phase II program. It will further strengthen our database supporting the efficacy and safety of this highly novel, curative treatment for high-risk HPV-infections.”
“We are highly excited about Genticel’s lead project ProCervix,” added Dr. Rainer Strohmenger, general partner at Wellington Partners. “It showed compelling data in the phase I clinical trial suggesting that it can cure an infection with high-risk HPV types 16 and 18 in 3 out of 4 treated patients, thus effectively preventing progression of the infection to high-grade cervical disease. There are more than 90 million women in the world infected with HPV 16 and/or HPV18 types who could benefit from this treatment, making this market a clear blockbuster opportunity.”
Recent estimates by the World Health Organization suggest that world-wide approximately 300 million women are carriers of HPV infection at any given time and approximately 500,000 patients are diagnosed with cervical cancer each year.