Swiss-US biotech secures 5 million USD to advance pipeline

Cellvie, a Harvard spin-off founded in the US with headquarters in Zurich, is developing medicines from cells, leveraging the therapeutic potential of mitochondria. The company has closed a $5M round to prepare a clinical trial in organ transplantation and to expand its pipeline into rejuvenation therapies.

Cellvie, a leader in Therapeutic Mitochondria Transfer (TMT), was founded by James McCully, Alexander Schueller (CEO), Pedro del Nido and Sitaram Emani in 2018. Mitochondria are the powerhouses of the cell, generating most of the cellular energy and operate as critical intra-cellular communication nodes. Mitochondria dysfunction has been tied to a host of diseases, ranging from neurodegenerative ailments such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, over heart attacks and strokes, to age-related degeneration. 

“But treating mitochondria has proven to be an arduous challenge,” said James McCully, founder of cellvie and Associate Professor of Surgery at Boston’s Children’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School. “That is why we turned to introduce healthy, viable mitochondria into cells where these organelles are impaired. To great effect. We can sustainably reinvigorate cells’ failing energy metabolism.” 

McCully pioneered the approach of mitochondria augmentation and replacement at Harvard Medical School. The team has now set out to bring it about as a new treatment modality in ischemia-reperfusion injury (IRI), ageing, and beyond. IRI is of the world’s leading causes of death. IRI manifests itself whenever the blood flow to a part of the body is interrupted and subsequently reintroduced. Well-known medical conditions include heart attacks, strokes, and organ transplantation. 

The potential of Therapeutic Mitochondria Transfer was recently demonstrated in a clinical investigation at Boston Children’s Hospital. Pediatric patients on heart-lung-support after suffering a cardiogenic shock received the treatment to revitalize their heart muscle. 80% of these children experienced myocardial recovery, which compares to an expected 29%, as reported in a publication forthcoming in The Journal of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery

Cellvie is pursuing an indication in organ transplantation, first, for which the FDA awarded orphan drug designation in 2020. The company has completed a new financing round raising $ 5 million, with Kizoo Technology Capital as the lead investor. The capital injection will be employed for productization, to expand cellvie’s product pipeline and to prepare an IND submission for a clinical study in kidney transplantation. 

(Press release)