Acthera Therapeutics AG, a biopharmaceutical company developing an innovative targeted release technology platform, announced today the successful completion of a CHF 5.4 million Seed A financing round. In addition, the company managed to secure significant non-dilutive funding through collaborations with academic and non-academic partners.
Acthera addresses one of the most important challenges in medicine, optimizing the therapeutic effect while minimizing the side effects. Acthera's proprietary hard-shelled liposomes (HSLs) allow for highly targeted release of potentially toxic therapeutic molecules at the exact site of medical need, creating high local availability of the drug to increase efficacy. The total amount of drug substance delivered to the body can be massively reduced, thus significantly decreasing toxicity and widening the therapeutic window of many drugs.
Acthera's hard-shelled, mechano-sensitive liposomes can release their cargo drug through various physical triggers, such as intracorporal pressure changes in the blood circulation or externally applied laser light.
Founded in 2019 by several Professors and experienced practitioners, the team has now been joined by former Professor Dr. Thierry Fumeaux, MD, as the company's Chief Medical Officer. In its exploration of potential clinical candidates in various therapeutic areas, Acthera has started to establish a high-profile advisory board, including Dr. Ruggero Della Bitta, a recognized industry senior expert in oncology and hematology who previously worked as VP Strategy Oncology, and Dr. Jeff Guise, a seasoned US IP lawyer with extensive global experience. Additional advisors will be announced soon.
Acthera's hard-shelled liposomes platform – adding unique physical properties to enable a truly targeted delivery
The foundations for Acthera go back many years, when co-founder Prof. Andreas Zumbühl, today Acthera's CSO, worked in the laboratories of Prof. Robert Langer at MIT in Boston. He synthesized the first generation of lipids, which later became a part of the groundwork leading to the foundation of some of today's most successful biotechnology companies in the Boston area. Later, as a Professor himself, he discovered a new type of liposomes. After many years of academic research at the Geneva, Fribourg, Basel, and Dallas Universities, his science was ready to be taken into preclinical and clinical development.
Unlike standard liposomes, Acthera's HSLs (hard-shelled liposomes) are mechano-sensitive. They offer a powerful and unique response to a so-far unresolved challenge – to apply well-tolerated liposomal systems for the targeted release of therapeutic substances at their site of action. As HSLs, they can be loaded with a wide variety of payloads and almost all molecule types. Their possible applications are extremely broad. A first animal proof-of-concept with an approved cardiovascular drug with serious side effects has confirmed the potential to widen its therapeutic window significantly, reducing systemic exposure by more than 2/3 while showing optimal therapeutic efficacy.
Acthera owns multiple types of hard-shelled liposomes and is currently expanding the scope of application throughout all drug modalities such as RNA, small molecules, peptides/antibodies, and others, possibly circumventing current hurdles in the development of investigational therapies and/or extending the application of approved molecules.
Roger Meier, the Chairman of the board, stated, "Acthera has, in challenging times of lockdowns, reached very important milestones in developing a unique, well-differentiated technology platform. I am very pleased to see that the company is attracting outstanding talent and senior industry experts who strongly support the excellent scientific and medical value proposal of this platform." Bettina Ernst, representing Bernina Bioinvest, commented, "I am very excited to be part of this extraordinary journey. Acthera's technology has the potential to improve the application spectrum of countless medicines significantly, to make new therapies possible in the first place and thus to improve the lives of a vast number of patients significantly."
With the funds raised and the strengthening of the team, Acthera will advance the development of the different release trigger mechanisms, expand the selection of potential clinical candidate cargos with a focus on cardiovascular diseases, oncology and RNA and selectively engage with potential collaboration partners.