Maxwell Biotech Venture Fund Invests in Hepatitis B/D Clinical Program
Co-Invests with Germany’s Public/Private High-Tech Gründerfonds, One of Europe’s Top Venture Funds
Maxwell Biotech Venture Fund (MBVF), founded with the participation of the Russian Government’s Russian Venture Company, announced today its first investment involving the High-Tech Gründerfonds (HTGF), one of Europe’s largest venture funds. MBVF’s investment committee approved the terms and the amount of an investment in a newly formed Russian biotech company, Hepatera, and a concurrent investment in the German biotech company MYR GmbH (“MYR”), a portfolio company of HTGF. Hepatera is going to use the funding to co-develop its first drug candidate, Myrcludex B, aimed at the treatment of chronic viral hepatitis B and D, in close partnership with MYR.
"Hepatera", LLC is a private Russian biotech company, that was founded in September 2011 and became a resident of the Biomedical Cluster at Skolkovo Innovation Center in December 2011. The company’s main goal is to develop and bring to the market innovative drugs for the prevention and treatment of liver diseases.
Dmitri Popov, managing partner at Maxwell Biotech Venture Fund: "Investing in Hepatera is not only a successful complement to the existing project portfolio of the fund, addressing one of the most serious medical and social problems, but also our first experience of investing alongside High Tech Gründerfonds. This is Germany’s pre-eminent public/private high tech fund, and we are pleased to be associated with one of Europe’s largest venture funds that was listed as one of the world’s TOP-15 venture funds, based on total investments in biomed projects in 2011."
Yan Ryazantsev, Director of Investment and Expertise Department with Russian Venture Company: "Attracting the participation of the global venture capital market into Russia, promoting abroad the products and services of Russian venture industry participants and innovative companies, as well as forming a sustainable positive attitude in foreign markets towards Russian innovation companies — these are the three components of success for Russia’s venture business on a global scale. And we are very pleased with the fact that the investment in Hepatera will help meet them.”
Bernd Goergen, Senior Investment Manager of the High-Tech Gruenderfonds adds: "We are extremely excited about our first investment together with Russian venture capitalists. Throughout the whole process we experienced an extraordinarily high level of sector competence, professionalism and fairness from Maxwell Biotech. The resulting mutual trust will form the basis for developing together not only a sustainable business with a highly innovative hepatitis drug, but also paves the way for additional fruitful collaborations."
About Myrcludex B
The prevalence of HBV (hepatitis B) infection in the world is very high: about 2 billion people are carriers of HBV, of which about 350 million are chronically ill. In some 5% of individuals with chronic hepatitis B virus the presence of hepatitis D is revealed. Such co-infection results in more severe and rapid progression of liver disease. Currently there is no drug approved to treat patients with hepatitis D.
The idea for Myrcludex B was developed within two renowned research institutions in Europe, the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research (INSERM) and University of Heidelberg in Germany. The lead compound blocks the penetration of Hepatitis B and D viruses into hepatocytes (liver cells). By treating with an entry inhibitor, new infection of constantly-evolving, healthy hepatocytes may be blocked and the number of infected cells should significantly decline within a few months. The immune system could then regain control over the infection and long-term treatment with viral replication inhibitors omitted or significantly shortened. Both HBV and HDV use the same receptor to enter the cell. The results obtained to date in the course of developing Myrcludex B show the effectiveness of this approach against both HBV and HDV in cell and animal models, as well as an excellent safety and pharmacokinetic profile in the recently completed Phase 1 clinical study.
The company located in Burgwedel near Hannover was founded in 2010 and holds the worldwide exclusive product rights for Myrcludex B. Currently, the company is focused on the coordination of a network of academic partners and vendors involved in Myrcludex's development. Dr. Alexander Alexandrov, MYR CSO, commented: "We have brought this landscape-changing approach through Phase 1 clinical testing and are excited about the collaboration with Hepatera, enabling the initiation of a proof of concept trial within a few months".
About High-Tech Gründerfonds
High-Tech Gründerfonds invests in young, high potential high-tech start-ups. The seed financing provided is designed to enable start-ups to take an idea through prototyping and to market launch. Typically, High Tech Gründerfonds invests EUR 500,000 in the seed stage, with the potential for up to a total of EUR 2m per portfolio company in follow-on financing. Investors in this public/private partnership include the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology, the KfW Banking Group, as well as thirteen industrial groups of ALTANA, BASF, B. Braun, Robert Bosch, CEWE Color, Daimler, Deutsche Post DHL, Deutsche Telekom, Evonik, Qiagen, RWE Innogy, Tengelmann and Carl Zeiss. High-Tech Gründerfonds has about EUR 563 million under management in two funds (EUR 272 million EUR HTGF I, EUR 291 million HTGF II).
About Maxwell Biotech Venture Fund
Maxwell Biotech Venture Fund (MBVF) formed with the participation of Russian Venture Company provides investment capital and access to an established infrastructure for conducting high-quality clinical trials in Russia, and helps enable the rapid and cost-effective achievement of clinical objectives. The fund’s unique business model can add value to our partners’ pipelines and provide a commercialization path to one of the most lucrative emerging markets. MBVF relies on an experienced international team of managers and financial and industry experts and has offices in Moscow and Boston. MBVF is investing in product development companies specializing in specific therapeutic areas or medical devices categories. To date, MBVF has invested in OncoMax (oncology), NeuroMax (CNS), MetaMax (oncology & metabolic diseases), Infectex (infectious diseases), CardioNova (cardiovascular diseases), Hepatera (liver diseases) and Photonics (novel lasers for medicine and dentistry). Products in these companies originated either from Russian scientists or were licensed from international biopharma companies.
About Russian Venture Company
Russian Venture Company (RVC) is a government fund of funds and a development institute of the Russian Federation; since 2006 it has been one of Russia’s key tools in building its own national innovation economy. RVC invests government capital through VC funds that it creates in partnership with private investors.
RVC has backed 12 funds (including two funds outside Russia) with a total capitalization of RUB 26 billion (about US$860 million), its share amounting to RUB 16 billion (about US$530 million). As of December 2011, RVC-backed funds hold a portfolio of 101 companies, with invested capital totaling RUB 9.2 billion (about US$300 million).