These are the top 10 biotechnology companies at the forefront of Poland’s emerging biotech sector, which is becoming a hotspot for startups.
Over the last decade, Poland has seen the rise of its biotech industry. While the country’s pharmaceutical industry has traditionally focused on developing generics, many of these companies have started moving towards developing biologics. Meanwhile, biotech startups in Poland are working on developing brand new technologies, with a big focus on treatments for cancer and autoimmune disease.
As the country sees success stories in its biotech sector, more and more academics and entrepreneurs have been encouraged to take the leap and start a business in Poland’s flourishing biotech industry. Here, we have selected 10 companies at the forefront of the country’s promising biotech industry.
Proteon Pharmaceuticals produces feed additives that can prevent and eliminate bacterial infections in livestock and aquaculture. The additives contain bacteriophages — viruses that only infect specific strains of bacteria — reducing the risk of pathogens developing antibiotic resistance. The company has three products on the market, two feed additives for poultry that prevent Salmonella and avian pathogenic Escherichia coli infections and one against Pseudomonas and Aeromonas bacteria in aquaculture.
Pure Biologics develops antibody drugs as well as DNA aptamers — DNA molecules that, much like antibodies, bind to a specific target. The company’s most advanced program is an aptamer in preclinical development intended to treat Devic’s disease, an autoimmune condition that causes episodes of sight loss and paralysis. In its antibody pipeline, Pure Biologics is focusing on first-in-class immuno-oncology drugs, with colorectal, lung, and breast cancer as initial targets.
Originally operating under the parent company Selvita S.A., Ryvu Therapeutics and Selvita underwent a corporate split in 2019 to separate the oncology therapeutics and contract research business units. Ryvu is a clinical-stage drug discovery and development biotech that is focused on developing small molecule therapies as alternatives to current cancer treatments. The most advanced program in their pipeline is a targeted therapy for acute myeloid leukemia currently in phase 2 trials in partnership with the pharma company Menarini. Ryvu’s other lead candidate is in phase 1b trials with the potential to treat blood cancer and solid tumors.
Formerly OncoArendi Therapeutics, Molecure develops small molecule therapies that can regulate RNA and underexplored protein targets for the treatment of incurable diseases, including cancer and fibrotic and inflammatory diseases. Their most advanced drug candidate is a phase 2-ready chitinase inhibitor for inflammatory lung diseases. While it was thought that chitinase and chitinase-like proteins cannot be found in humans, recent studies have proven that they are present and play an important role in regulating the intensity of the immune response.
Location: Konstantynów Łódzki
Located in a small industrial town, Mabion was one of the first biotech companies to be launched in Poland. Mabion develops biosimilar antibody drugs and offers manufacturing contract services. The company’s most advanced project is a biosimilar of Roche’s rituximab, an antibody used to treat blood cancer and arthritis, which is being tested in phase 3 trials. Mabion is also developing vaccine antigens as part of their collaboration with the U.S. vaccine development company Novavax..
With offices in Wrocław and Basel, Captor Therapeutics employs a proprietary targeted protein degradation platform to discover and develop drugs that can breakdown disease-causing proteins. This approach lets the company go after disease targets that were previously considered undruggable. Captor is building its own drug development pipeline based on this technology, with five drug projects in the discovery and preclinical phase focusing on cancer and autoimmune diseases.
While it started as more of a traditional pharmaceutical company, Celon Pharma has shifted from developing generics to developing innovative biologic drugs, such as bispecific antibodies and messenger RNA (mRNA) therapeutics. The company is also developing a preclinical-stage biosimilar of Genentech’s antibody drug Lucentis for age-related macular degeneration. Celon Pharma has been listed on the Warsaw Stock Exchange since 2016, with a market cap of over €150M.
Bowil Biotech uses bacterial fermentation to produce biocellulose on an industrial scale. The company currently sells wound dressings and face masks made of biocellulose. It is researching many more applications, including heart prostheses, analgesic dressings, contact lenses and high-strength paper.
Bioavlee creates new laboratory equipment that redefine microorganism identification and counting. The company’s technology relies on laser diffraction, where a laser is shone on the sample to measure the unique patterns created by each type of microorganism. Using the laser, self-learning algorithms, and a reference photo database, bacteria can be identified with over 90% accuracy without having to sequence their DNA.
A spin-out of the Warsaw University of Technology, NanoVelos is developing nanoparticles to deliver cancer drugs. The nanoparticles, made of dextran molecules, are designed to only release the drugs they carry when inside a cancer cell, thus increasing the drug’s efficacy while reducing its potential side effects. The technology is still in preclinical development, with some of the projects focusing on enhancing generic forms of existing drugs.
This article was originally published in September 2019 and has been updated.