Stories: EIC-backed company Avectas raises €18M in Series C equity funding
The Irish company, developing cutting-edge technology to help cure cancers, has secured a significant new Series C round of approximately €18 million, bringing the total equity funding to around €37 million. The capital was led by existing shareholders, including Seamus Mulligan, an experienced biopharmaceutical executive.
The funds raised in this latest equity round will be used to accelerate the clinical translation and commercial scale-up of Avectas’ proprietary cell engineering technology platform Solupore. The company also aims to hire more people in Ireland and the US to expand its operations “as Covid-19 related conditions permit.”
“We are delighted to have completed our largest ever funding and are appreciative of our investors’ continued support at a time when scientific advances are more critical than ever,” said Michael Maguire, Avectas’ Chief Executive Officer. He continued: “building on our recent collaborations, this Series C funding allows us to make further investments in our technology and organisation to address a significant market need in the rapidly growing gene and cell therapy market.”
Cell immunotherapy has been delivering spectacular clinical results and is becoming increasingly popular as an entirely new way of treating cancer. Cancer immunotherapy, in which a patient’s own immune cells are ‘armed’ by cell engineering to target and kill cancer cells, gives levels of complete response in patients.
The main challenge with these treatments is the complex and high-cost of manufacturing. To tackle this challenge, Avectas has developed Solupore, a cell engineering technology, which delivers cargo to cells and plays a critical role in the manufacturing process. The first cell immunotherapy drug was approved in August 2017 at a price of €200,000, while Avectas’s Solupore approach can complete the process for €115,000, or 40% less.
Mary Martin, Avectas’ Executive Chair commented: “Ireland has a deep history in the pharmaceutical and biotech sector, and I am excited to see it built on that legacy with companies like Avectas, which are at the cutting edge of the new cell and gene therapy sector.”
In March 2020, the company announced both the issuance of a US Patent core to its cell engineering technology and a collaboration with Vycellix to advance next-generation solutions for the optimised manufacture of cell & gene therapies. The company also announced, in February, that it had entered an agreement with the centre for commercialisation of regenerative medicine (CCRM) based in Toronto, Canada to accelerate the translation of Avectas’ non-viral cell engineering platform Solupore into the clinic.
In 2018, the Irish start-up received Phase 2 Grant from the European Innovation Council to accelerate its Solupore delivery technology towards clinical scale and regulatory approval, and ultimately to the development of the company’s own therapeutic products.