Procavea obtains funding to boost its novel delivery platform for RNA therapeutics

Based in Zurich, Procavea Biotech is developing a first-in-class protein-based delivery platform for RNA therapeutics. This approach promises higher stability, engineerability, and easier manufacturing. The CHF 150,000 from Venture Kick will allow the startup to validate the platform for siRNA applications.

The global RNA therapeutics market is large, forecast to exceed USD 30 billion by the end of this decade with an astonishing annual growth rate of 18%. And, since the Coronavirus pandemic, RNA-based medicines have entered the spotlight of the broader public. Besides providing effective vaccines in record times, RNA therapeutics, such as small interfering RNAs (siRNA), have shown great potential to treat many diseases with a high unmet medical need. However, existing drug delivery methods are recognised as the biggest challenge limiting the development of siRNA therapeutics.

Procavea has developed a special delivery platform based on non-viral protein cagesparticularly promising in its ease of manufacture and engineerabilitywhich holds the potential to break this deadlock. Among the advantages, these protein cages are non-toxic, biodegradable, compatible with a wide range of cargo, and can be targeted to specific cell types. To bring this technology to the market, Procavea is currently focused on developing the first drug candidate for an undisclosed disease, but it also plans to develop its pipeline of siRNA therapeutics. 

Procavea will invest CHF 150,000 to develop its patent portfolio, further validate the platform for siRNA applications, and test its first drug candidates in vivo. This work will be fundamental to bringing the technology to a level of maturity to secure a first funding round in 2024. These proceeds from this round will be used to bring Procavea’s lead candidate through preclinical development within the next two years, laying the groundwork for initiating a first clinical study. 

Dr. Thomas Edwardson, Senior Scientist at ETH, and Donald Hilvert, Professor Emeritus at ETH, are the inventors of Procavea’s proprietary technology. They bring experience in the design of functional protein assemblies. Dr Richard Quaderer, managing director at RhySearch, brings experience in bioprocess development and technology management, while Dr Michael Wetter has 15 years of experience in biotech startups, such as GlycoVaxyn. Procavea recently initiated a collaboration at ETH with Prof. Markus Stoffel, a key opinion leader in the field of metabolic diseases and siRNA therapeutics.

“In our journey so far, the Venture Kick program has been a precious experience. On top of the financial support, which fills an important funding gap facing a lot of early-stage startups, the lessons learned from the kickers camps and the opportunity to challenge our assumptions and streamline our business case with experienced coaches have been a great opportunity,” commented Thomas Edwardson, Senior Scientist and founder of Procavea. “Making it to the third and final stage is a validation that is really encouraging for us.”

(Press release/RAN)
Procavea’s team: Michael Wetter, Tom Edwardson, Richard Quaderer, and Donald Hilvert