Bordeaux-based biotech startup TreeFrog Therapeutics, which specialises in the development of stem cells, has raised €7.1 million in a Series A funding round, just six months after incorporating.
According to TreeFrog, the key bottleneck in cell therapy research today is the cultivation of pluripotent stem cells – self-replicating cells which can form to grow any part of the human body. These cells are fragile and difficult to grow, and current cell therapy programs are limited by manufacturing capacity, cell processing costs, and cell quality.
To address this challenge, TreeFrog Therapeutics developed C-Stem™; a 3D cell culture system that enables the mass production of stem cells with short lead times, while preserving genomic integrity. With C-Stem, TreeFrog aims to significantly lower the cost and accelerate the production of stem cells.
The Series A funding round was led by French-German venture capital team XAnge (Siparex Group), along with private equity fund Galia Gestion, and historical investors Irdi Soridec, Aquiti Gestion, and SATT Aquitaine.
The new funding will be used to transition the company’s C-Stem™ technology to good manufacturing practice standards by 2021, and to develop cell therapy research programs for a wide array of conditions, including Huntington’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, heart failure, and diabetes.
“I am delighted to complete this funding cycle so quickly. Within the past six months, we have been approached by several big pharma companies to develop novel cell therapy programs,” said Kevin Alessandri, CEO & CTO of TreeFrog Therapeutics. “Now, all the lights are green as we move forward with our partners with the aim of a first-in-man clinical trial within three to five years.”
The company recently delivered its first batch of 143 million human pluripotent stem cells to the Imagine Institute for Genetic Diseases, which were amplified in only seven days without compromising on quality. This amplification factor is about ten times higher than current industry standards, and the Imagine Institute confirmed that the genomic integrity of the cells was completely preserved.
“The steps TreeFrog Therapeutics has already taken are impressive and we were particularly convinced by Maxime Feyeux and Kevin Alessandri. Their innovation is a breakthrough for the cell therapy market and is applicable in multiple fields,” said Claudia Daugan, senior investment manager, GALIA Gestion.
“This Series A round marks the culmination of a global fundraising effort, which includes seed capital and non-dilutive funds, to the amount of approximately €8 million,” said Maxime Feyeux, president and CSO of TreeFrog Therapeutics. “We now have the resources to meet our milestones, build our capacities and secure our plan for growth. In addition to the investors who have put their trust in us, we are very grateful to the French Investment Bank Bpifrance, the Nouvelle-Aquitaine Regional Council, the bioproduction school ENSTBB and the UNITEC incubator for their support.”
You can learn more about TreeFrog’s stem cell technology in this video: