OneChain Immunotherapeutics secures €6.7M in pre-series A funding round
• The funds raised will be used to bring the company’s products to patients and to complete the clinical trial they have underway.
• The venture capital firm Invivo Partners, the Centre for Technological Development and Innovation, the venture capital firms Nara Capital and Clave Capital, and the Josep Carreras Leukemia Foundation have all participated in the operation.
• This funding comes three years after the creation of the company, during which the team has managed to take its most advanced product to clinical trials.
Barcelona, 22nd June 2023. OneChain Immunotherapeutics (OCI), a clinical stage biotech company focused on the development of CAR-T candidates for the treatment of oncological diseases, today announced the closing of a €6.7 million pre-series A funding round. The transaction was led by the venture capital firm Invivo Partners, with the participation of the current investors, the Josep Carreras Leukemia Foundation and the Centre for Technological Development and Innovation, through its Innvierte Program. It has also been backed by two new investors, Nara Capital and Clave Capital.
OCI was created in June 2020 as a spin-off of the Josep Carreras Leukemia Research Institute (IJC) in a clear commitment to bring the research of the group led by Dr. Pablo
Menéndez, ICREA research professor and Principal Investigator of the IJC, closer to patients. Since then, the company has managed to reach the clinic in less than three years and has strengthened its pipeline with a new allogeneic platform, a program against hematological tumors and another program against solid tumors.
“Our company is a clear example of public-private collaboration for the benefit of patients,” says Jorge Alemany, CEO of the company. “It is an example of how the initiative of a non-profit foundation, with the leadership of private investors and the support of the government, can benefit patients, create jobs and advance science”.
This milestone is a significant step forward for the company, which will use the funding to consolidate its product pipeline and bring its innovative solutions to the clinical stage. “It will also allow us to finalize the CARxALL trial, where our most advanced product is being evaluated,” Alemany adds.
OCI’s approach to cancer treatment is based on CAR-T technology, which allows the genetic modification of the patient’s T-cells so that they are able to recognize and destroy cancer cells. This technology, although already established in the treatment of certain leukemias and lymphomas, is pioneering in the treatment of T-type leukemias and solid tumors and constitutes a new hope for patients with limited treatment options.
“We are convinced of the enormous potential that CAR-T therapies pose for the treatment of cancer, and we strongly support the advances that OCI is making in this field,” says Laura Rodriguez, principal at Invivo and board member of OneChain. “The company is a clear example of technology transfer in advanced therapies, which has managed to take its first product from research to clinical trial in less than three years,” she adds.
The participation of new investors in the financing round is also a reflection of this success, as they not only strengthen the company’s financial position, but also validate its progress and the potential of its therapeutic approach. “We would like to welcome the new investors, who have placed their trust in the translational capacity of the OneChain team, and who will accompany us in this new phase to consolidate a portfolio of cell therapy products with the aim of improving the lives of patients,” concludes Rodríguez.
An international dimension
In addition to the confidence placed in the company by private investors, OCI has received a financial injection from the European Innovation Council (EIC) through its Transition call, which promotes activities aimed at preparing the market launch of new technologies. Specifically, the company has received €2.5 million for the development of a novel CAR-T therapy that does not rely on the patient’s own cells (allogeneic) and simultaneously attacks two cancer cell targets.
“The financial support from the European Commission is especially important to us, not only because of the financial boost it gives us, but also because of the distinction it implies,” says Alemany. “The award of this project is the result of a very competitive process and speaks to the confidence that the European institutions have in the revolutionary potential of CAR-T therapy to transform cancer treatment”.
About OneChain Immunotherapeutics (OCI)
OCI was founded by the Josep Carreras Leukemia Research Institute, ICREA and Dr. Pablo Menéndez in Barcelona in June 2020, with the aim of developing immunotherapy-based treatments for malignant neoplasms. It is currently working on five projects: two CAR-Ts for T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia, a CAR-T for B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia, a platform of allogeneic Vδ1 cells at lower cost than autologous CAR-T treatments, and a dual CAR-T for the treatment of glioblastoma.
About Invivo Partners
Invivo Partners is a Spanish venture capital firm founded by Dr. Luis Pareras and Albert Ferrer, which manages Invivo Ventures FCR, a venture capital fund that invests in early-stage life science companies. Invivo Ventures FCR is majority owned by private investors, with the support of a number of institutional investors such as the European Investment Fund (EIF), Fond-ICO Global, the Institut Català de Finances, the Institut Valencià de Finances and the Ajuntament de Barcelona.
About the Josep Carreras Foundation
The Fundación Josep Carreras contra la Leucemia was founded in 1988 with the aim of contributing to finding a definitive cure for this disease. Its efforts are focused on four basic areas: the management of the Bone Marrow Donor Registry in Spain (REDMO), the scientific research carried out by the José Carreras Leukemia Research Institute, patient counselling through an online medical consultation channel, and the reception flats for patients who have undergone treatment and have to spend long periods of time away from home.
The Centro para el Desarrollo Tecnológico y la Innovación (CDTI Innovation) is the body of the General State Administration that supports knowledge-based innovation, advising and offering public aid for innovation through grants or partially reimbursable aid. CDTI Innovation also internationalizes the R&D and innovation business projects of Spanish companies and entities and manages Spanish participation in international R&D&I organizations, such as Horizonte2020 and Eureka, and in the Science and Space
industries. In addition, through the Innvierte Economía Sostenible initiative, it supports and facilitates the capitalisation of technology companies.
About the Josep Carreras Leukaemia Research Institute
The Instituto de Investigación contra la Leucemia Josep Carreras, a CERCA center of the Generalitat de Catalunya, was created in 2010 with the aim of promoting biomedical research and personalized medicine in the field of leukemia and other onco-hematological diseases. The Institute currently hosts 40 groups of excellence which, under the leadership of Dr. Manel Esteller, research the epidemiological, preventive, clinical and translational aspects of cancer. The Josep Carreras Institute has 5 coordinated scientific
locations: the IJC-Can Ruti, the IJC-Clinic, the IJC-Sant Pau, the IJC-Mar and the IJC-Trueta.
ICREA, the Institución Catalana de Investigación y Estudios Avanzados, is a foundation funded by the Catalan government, which was created in response to the need for new recruitment formulas that would allow it to compete on equal terms with other research systems, focusing on the recruitment of the most extraordinary and talented scientific and academic staff. ICREA has researchers from all fields of knowledge who carry out their research at 48 universities and research institutions in Catalonia.
About Nara Capital
Nara Capital is an independent investment firm that invests in core assets with the purpose of creating sustainable value for investors, society and the environment. Through its fund Nara Health Capital FCR invests in early-stage companies that are changing the paradigm of the healthcare sector. The fund is majority owned by private investors, supported by institutional investors such as ICO-AXIS Participaciones Empresariales SGEIC.
About Clave Capital
Clave Capital is a private equity firm with more than 20 years in the market and a total volume under management of nearly €140MM, with a long track record of investing in early-stage technology projects. It currently manages more than €90MM in Tech Transfer, with Health-tech being one of its priorities. The investment in OneChain is the sixth investment of Clave Inno-health, a fund promoted together with CDTI Innvierte to invest in early-stage projects in the bio-health field.