Pleco Therapeutics BV, a specialty biopharmaceutical company in the Netherlands developing novel treatments designed to detoxify the cancer micro-environment has raised total funds of €17.3 million ($17.2 million) in series A financing.
The funds will be used to complete development of, and to commercialize, the company’s novel lead Plecoid product, PTX-061, to improve the effectiveness of chemotherapy in patients with acute myeloid leukaemia (AML).
The investments include €3.6 million ($3.6 million) in new equity committed by Oost NL and private investors, €5 million ($5 million) in government funding from the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO), and €8.7 million ($8.6 million) in equity and R&D project financing from Hyloris Pharmaceuticals SA previously announced in late 2021.
In total, at final close, the round exceeded the company’s goal of €15 million ($14.9 million). The company said it will provide sufficient funds to complete the development of PTX-061’s regulatory dossier in AML and to be ready for submission to the FDA and EMA as early as 2024, and to accelerate preclinical work in other indications such as small-cell lung cancer (SCLC).
Improving chemotherapy effectiveness
Pleco’s Plecoid therapies include chelating agents with different characteristics, which have the potential to positively change the balance of protein expression within the cancer microenvironment, removing the burden of toxic metals within the cell, thereby improving the effectiveness of existing chemotherapy.
While AML is a relatively rare disease, the effectiveness of current chemotherapy may be limited because the leukemia cells can become resistant to it over time. The majority of patients will relapse, even after an initial successful treatment. Relapses carry a poor prognosis; most patients no longer respond to treatment and die from anemia, infection, or multiorgan failure. Worldwide, the incidence of AML is estimated to be 350,000 cases per year. In the U.S., the National Cancer Institute said there will be an estimated 20,050 new cases of AML in 2022 and 11,540 deaths.
Pleco’s technology provides a platform for the development of a pipeline of therapies. In addition to PTX-061 for AML, the current pipeline includes additional candidates in preclinical testing for the treatment of other rare diseases such as SCLC.
Ivo Timmermans, CEO of Pleco Therapeutics, said: “We are delighted to have secured the funds needed to progress our lead drug candidate through development, for the treatment of AML, a blood cancer that carries a very poor prognosis. We welcome our new shareholders and are grateful for the support from Oost NL and RVO.”
Pleco’s funding from the RVO is the maximum granted under its Innovation Credit scheme, which helps entrepreneurs with promising and challenging innovations with excellent market perspective. It provides special funding, a national and international network, and personal advice for innovative start-ups.
About Pleco Therapeutics
Pleco Therapeutics is a clinical stage specialty biopharmaceutical company which aims to extend the life span and enhance the quality of life of patients through its Plecoid therapies, which have been designed to increase the effectiveness of current cancer treatments.
Its Plecoid therapies have the potential to change the balance of protein expression within the cancer microenvironment, removing the burden of toxic metals within the cell, thereby improving the effectiveness of existing chemotherapy.
Pleco is headquartered in Nijmegen, the Netherlands, with a U.S. subsidiary, Pleco Therapeutics USA Inc, based in Newark, New Jersey.