The Belgian biotech AgomAb has raised €21M and partnered with the Dutch biotech argenx to develop antibody treatments that could regenerate damaged tissue.
The round was led by the Belgian investor V-Bio Ventures and Advent France Biotechnology. AgomAb will use the big Series A funding to test antibody treatments for fibrosis in clinical trials, as well as autoimmune and inflammatory diseases. The company declined to disclose the specific diseases it will target.
AgomAb is developing antibodies mimicking the action of the protein hepatocyte growth factor, which is involved in cell growth and division. “The interesting part of the hepatocyte growth factor is its ability to promote wound healing and tissue regeneration,” AgomAb’s CEO, Tim Knotnerus, told me. “It displays tremendous therapeutic activity in a large set of preclinical models.”
The protein itself is not well suited to being used as a drug because it has proven difficult to manufacture, amongst other limitations. This led the company to use antibodies to mimic it, an approach that hasn’t been tried before.
AgomAb’s antibodies will be developed using technology licensed from argenx, one of the few European biotechs worth more than €1B. This Dutch company designs drugs inspired by llama antibodies, which are smaller than human antibodies and can more easily penetrate tissues.
AgomAb will be addressing areas of medicine that have a high demand for new treatment alternatives. “There is a strong interest in the field of fibrosis, regenerative medicine and anti-inflammatory approaches,” Knotnerus told me. “I think there’s a very healthy financing climate for technology in these fields of high medical need.”
One of Europe’s largest biotechs, Galapagos, is working with the Dutch company ProQR to develop RNA drugs for fibrosis underlying the lung diseases cystic fibrosis and idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. The French company Inventiva is working with big pharma partner Boehringer Ingelheim to develop treatments for idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.
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