ExeVir Bio, a Belgian biotech company developing nanobody therapies for broad protection against infectious diseases, has secured a venture debt financing agreement of up to €25 million ($26.5 million) with the European Investment Bank (EIB).
The EIB financing will help advance ExeVir Bio’s lead asset, XVR012, into clinical trials for COVID-19.
ExeVir Bio’s COVID-19 development program will focus on development of candidates for both treatment and prophylaxis. The company said it will be crucial for protecting the large number of immunocompromised people, approximately 3% of the general Western population, who remain at high risk of severe COVID-19 disease despite the availability of current vaccines.
ExeVir Bio leverages its modular llama-derived antibody (VHH) technology platform to generate multi-specific antibodies for prophylaxis and treatment against COVID-19. ExeVir Bio is evaluating highly potent, heavy-chain based antibodies, which are unique in targeting the subunits of the coronavirus spike protein via highly conserved epitopes, S1 and S2.
The S2 region is highly conserved, making viral ‘escape variants’ less likely, but it is hard to target with most other approaches. Multiple high potential binders offer the potential of heterodimer binders to the spike protein in one molecule or a cocktail.
Further clinical development for ExeVir Bio’s lead candidate
Exevir Bio’s candidates demonstrate strong potency and breath, neutralizing all known previous and current SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern. The company continues to monitor and screen for neutralization of emerging viral variants of concern. ExeVir Bio’s lead preclinical development candidate, XVR012, will be ready for further clinical development in 2023.
Torsten Mummenbrauer, CEO of ExeVir Bio, said: “The ExeVir team has quickly developed significant expertise in leveraging its modular nanobody platform to address COVID-19. We are now using that experience to find rapid, effective solutions for new variants of this infectious disease, particularly as interventions to protect and treat the immunocompromised population, that continues to live in fear, have elapsed.
“COVID-19 has proven to be a devastating and highly unpredictable disease for this most vulnerable population. We are extremely pleased to secure the EIB’s support and endorsement at such a pivotal time for the Company, to ensure this unmet need is addressed in COVID-19 and preparations are in place for future pandemics.”
Fiona du Monceau, COO of ExeVir Bio, said: “This funding from the EIB will support the development of our lead asset, XVR012. It will allow us to advance on our scientific roadmap, as well as help us to pursue our ambitious growth strategy and establish us as a truly European biotech champion combating infectious diseases with high unmet medical needs.
“With EIB’s help, we can continue to focus on protecting populations for whom vaccines are not sufficient and who are unable to use antiviral therapies, such as the immunocompromised, as well as on preparing for future pandemics. We aim to bring our first product to market which has the potential to become a critical instrument in the toolbox for combating COVID-19.”