Cleara Biotech has closed a $2.5 million seed financing round that it will use for progress its compounds toward clinical development.
The company that develops therapies for treating different pathologies of scarred cellular senescence including late-stage cancer and chronic diseases made the announcement yesterday (September 27).
The financing round earlier in the year was led by Apollo Health Ventures with participation from Curie Capital B.V., ROM Utrecht Region and Longevity Tech Fund.
As well as progressing compounds, Cleara Biotech will also use the money to further build its developmental pipeline and management team.
Scarred cancer cells
Cleara Biotech has optimized two lead developmental candidates, CL04177 and CL04183, that can eliminate scarred cancer cells found in several late-stage cancers and chronic diseases in humans.
Cleara Biotech is aiming to develop precision medicine tools that treat specific diseases with clear niche-directed, anti-senescent lead candidates, accompanied with associated biomarkers, around its FOXO4-based D-amino acid peptides and pipeline against subtypes of senescence.
As senescent cells impair tissue function and identifying how these cells avoid apoptosis allows for the prospective design of anti-senescence compounds and will be critical to address whether homeostasis can be restored.
Cleara Biotech scientists identified FOXO4 as having the potential to sequester active, phosphorylated p53, preventing nuclear translocation and induction of apoptosis in scarred senescent and cancer cells.
Highly selective targets
Senescent or scarred cells, as well as a range of chemo-resistant and/or metastatic cancers, share features and unique biomarkers that Cleara Biotech has identified, making them highly selective targets for CL04177/CL04183.
Designed and optimized based on an extensive (3D) structural, molecular and cellular understanding of cell scarring’s mechanism of action and how FOXO4 restrains this particular form of the cell guardian p53, both lead compounds potently counter viability of scarred cancer cells in 2D culture and 3D organoids. They also strongly reduce the metastatic burden and infiltration in mouse in vivo models for metastatic colon cancer and triple-negative breast cancer. Furthermore, they show favorable pharmacokinetics and tissue distribution in mice, with an MTD that is well above their efficacious dose.
Marianne Mertens, partner at Apollo Health Ventures, said: “As we have worked closely with Cleara since its inception, playing a key role in the company’s founding, Apollo Health Ventures has been extremely impressed with the progress achieved to date.
“We believe that the FOXO4-based approach, including the utilization of biomarkers, has great promise to develop safe and efficacious drugs in several diseases.”
Additionally, Cleara Biotech has appointed Angelos Stergiou, New York-based SELLAS Life Sciences’ president and CEO, as its board of directors chairman. Stergiou is a preeminent leader in the biotechnology industry with more than 20 years of experience in immuno-oncology, drug development and health economics, as well as deep expertise in finance and corporate governance.
Managing director at Cleara Biotech, Peter de Keizer, said: “As Cleara’s vision is to develop novel, highly innovative approaches to combat life-threatening diseases, we look forward to further building the company’s pipeline and advancing our preclinical studies.
“At the same time, Stergiou’s deep expertise in cancer drug development and impressive track record of building companies will be invaluable to use as we scale our preclinical and regulatory efforts in the U.S. and EU to enter the clinic by 2024.”
“Cleara’s novel FOXO4-based treatment approach, which harnesses the unique attributes of utilizing biomarkers and ability to eliminate biomarker-positive scarred cells, specific subsets of senescence, has the potential to be a disruptive treatment paradigm for many high-unmet-need cancer patient populations,” added Dr. Stergiou. “I look forward to working with the Board and management team as the Company continues to grow at such a pivotal time.”