TreeFrog Therapeutics raises over €7M ($7.8M) in Series A financing round 6 months after incorporation
Funding to scale-up company’s proprietary technology C-Stem™ for mass-production of safe and affordable cell therapies
Bordeaux, France, May 13, 2019 – TreeFrog Therapeutics, an expert stem cell company, today announces that it has raised €7.1M ($7.8M) in a Series A funding round. The proceeds will be used to transition the company’s C-Stem™ technology to cGMP standards by 2021 and to develop proprietary and collaborative cell therapy research programs in a wide array of indications (Huntington’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, heart failure, diabetes, NASH…) with the objective of a first-in-man clinical trial in 2024.
The Series A funding round was led by French-German venture capital team XAnge (Siparex Group), joined by private equity fund Galia Gestion as a new investor and historical investors from the earlier seed funding round, Irdi Soridec, Aquiti Gestion and SATT Aquitaine.
In addition to attracting €6.5M ($7.2M) in equity, TreeFrog Therapeutics was granted a further €600k ($670k) non-dilutive funding in March by the Nouvelle-Aquitaine Region, Bpifrance and the French Ministry of Higher Education, Research and Innovation.
TreeFrog Therapeutics was incorporated in November 2018. Over the past four years, the project has already received a total of €3M ($3.3M) from the University of Bordeaux, the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS), the French National Research Agency (ANR) and the Technology Transfer Office for the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region, France (AST Innovations).
The key bottleneck in cell therapy research today is the culture of pluripotent stem cells, which are fragile and difficult to grow. Therefore, current cell therapy programs are limited by manufacturing capacity, cell processing costs and cell quality. To address this challenge, TreeFrog Therapeutics developed C-Stem™, its proprietary technology for stem cell culture; a 3D cell culture system enabling the mass production of stem cells with short lead times, while preserving genomic integrity. C-Stem aims to significantly lower costs and accelerate bioproduction.
The company recently announced that it has delivered the first batch of 143 million human IPS cells to Imagine Institute. These cells were amplified in only seven days without compromising on quality. This amplification factor is about ten times higher than current industry standards and genomic integrity was proved 100% preserved by Imagine Institute.
“Treefrog's strong commercial traction among key players at such an early stage convinced us of the co-founders and their team’s prowess in commercialization and execution,” said Guilhem de Vregille, investment director, XAnge.
"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.
“We believe that TreeFrog’s technology and know-how will address the issue of the bottleneck in stem cell production, which remains a challenge in cell therapy. We also believe that the founders complement each other exceptionally well,” said Jean-Michel Petit, senior investment manager, IRDI Soridec Gestion.
“Aquiti Gestion has funded TreeFrog Therapeutics since its inception. We are proud to participate in this Series A round, which will enable the company to set up a unique cell therapy manufacturing facility in the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region,” said Camille Le Roux Larsabal, investment manager, Aquiti Gestion.
“Maxime Feyeux and Kévin Alessandri have successfully managed to remove the barriers to the mass production of stem cells. The University of Bordeaux is proud to have been by their side from the start of their project. It is clear that Aquitaine Science Transfert will continue to support the company until its first industrial realization,” said Maylis Chusseau, president, Aquitaine Science Transfert.
“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 €8M ($9M). 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,” said Maxime Feyeux, president, CSO, TreeFrog Therapeutics.
“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. 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,” said Kevin Alessandri, CEO & CTO, TreeFrog Therapeutics.