Beyond Biotech podcast 9: ARCH Venture Partners, Micropep, PTC Therapeutics, Valneva

August 12, 2022 - 4 minutes

On this week’s podcast, we have conversations with ARCH Venture Partners’ managing director Kristina Burow; founder and CEO of Micropep Thomas Laurent; Kylie O’Keefe, SVP, commercial & corporate strategy at PTC Therapeutics, and Juan Carlos Jaramillo, chief medical officer of Valneva.

ARCH Venture Partners closes $2.97B biotech fund

ARCH Venture Partners has announced the closing of ARCH Venture Fund XII, with $2.975 billion to invest in the creation, development and funding of early stage biotechnology companies. 

ARCH investments made from Fund XII will reflect the firm’s focus on companies formed around breakthrough technologies. This means investing in early stage biotech companies with potential to solve some of the biggest health challenges in areas including infectious disease, mental health, immunology, oncology, neurology, age-related diseases, manufacturing, clinical trials, genomic and biological tools, data sciences, and ways to reimagine diagnostics and therapies. 

ARCH Venture Partners is one of the largest early-stage technology venture firms in the U.S. It invests primarily in companies it co-founds with leading scientists and entrepreneurs, bringing innovations in life sciences and physical sciences to market.

Upstaza gets EC green light

PTC Therapeutics, Inc. says Upstaza (eladocagene exuparvovec) has been given marketing authorization by the European Commission. 

Upstaza is the first approved disease-modifying treatment for aromatic L-amino acid decarboxylase (AADC) deficiency, and the first marketed gene therapy directly infused into the brain. It is approved for patients 18 months and older.

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During Upstaza clinical studies, patients went from not achieving any developmental motor milestones to demonstrating clinically meaningful motor skills from as early as three months following treatment, with transformational improvements shown to continue up to ten years after treatment. In addition, cognitive skills improved in all treated patients. 

Upstaza also reduced symptoms that cause potentially life-threatening and morbid complications.

The marketing authorization is applicable to all 27 European Union member states, as well as Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein.  

Micropep raises €8.75M to develop alternative crop-protection products

French ag-biotech company Micropep, which develops biological micropeptide-based solutions for agriculture, has completed an €8.75 million ($9.3 million) series A1 financing round. 

Based in Toulouse, Micropep has developed a technological platform that makes it possible to precisely regulate a plant’s gene expression, without altering its DNA, by the exogenous application of micropeptides, a family of proteins naturally produced by plants to respond to stress and regulate their development.

Micropep said the new round of financing will fuel its expansion to the U.S.

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The new investment also marks the first step towards the commercialization of Micropep’s products. Micropep is using this funding to accelerate the development phase of its first micropeptide candidates in the U.S. and will build a locally-recruited team to deploy its solutions. 

Pfizer and Valneva to start phase 3 Lyme disease vaccine study

Pfizer Inc. and Valneva SE have initiated a phase 3 clinical study, Vaccine Against Lyme for Outdoor Recreationists (VALOR), to investigate the efficacy, safety and immunogenicity of their investigational Lyme disease vaccine candidate, VLA15.

“With increasing global rates of Lyme disease, providing a new option for people to help protect themselves from the disease is more important than ever,” said Annaliesa Anderson, senior vice president and head of vaccine research and development at Pfizer. 

“We hope that the data generated from the phase 3 study will further support the positive evidence for VLA15 to date, and we are looking forward to collaborating with the research sites across the U.S. and Europe on this important trial.”

Juan Carlos Jaramillo, chief medical officer of Valneva, said, “We are extremely pleased to reach this important milestone in the development of VLA15. Lyme disease continues to spread, representing a high unmet medical need that impacts the lives of many in the northern hemisphere. We look forward to further investigating the VLA15 candidate in phase 3, which will take us a step closer to potentially bringing this vaccine to both adults and children who would benefit from it.”

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