Versantis focusses on the development of products for the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of liver diseases. The biotech start-up closed a Series A financing round of CHF 4.4 million. Redalpine Venture Partners led the round and was joined by Altus Partners, HealthEquity, Occident Group, Zürcher Kantonalbank, and private investors. The proceeds will be used to progress the lead candidate, VS-01, into a Phase I/II clinical trial targeting hepatic encephalopathy in acute on chronic-liver-failure, as well as to further develop the company’s preclinical pipeline.
“We are thrilled to welcome an outstanding consortium of investors in our Series A financing who will not only bring capital resources, but also compelling visions and complementary experiences which will continue to drive execution and craft innovative strategies to advance our products’ pipeline. The timing of this financing is excellent and puts Versantis in a competitive position to rapidly access the growing multi-billion-dollar market of liver diseases.” said Dr. Vincent Forster, CEO and co-founder of Versantis. “This is an exciting time for Versantis as we advance the development of our lead compound VS-01 to reach Phase IIa and deliver proof-of-safety and preliminary proof-of-efficacy in the clinic; this will represent a major milestone which will serve as a common basis for 3 different indications in acute liver failure.” added Dr. Meriam Kabbaj, COO and co-founder of Versantis.
Versantis’ board of Directors is chaired by Peter Nicklin, senior healthcare executive with extensive international experience (Baxter, Bayer Healthcare, Novartis). In conjunction with the financing, Michael Sidler, Redalpine, and Lluis Pareras, HealthEquity, will join the founding board members Drs. Kabbaj and Forster.
“It was the entrepreneurial quality of the founding team, the solid science and the combination of a medtech product with a drug-like potential that convinced us to lead this investment round.” stated Dr. Sidler, Redalpine. “We believe in Versantis’ innovative pipeline that carries a big hope for treating the patients suffering from acute liver diseases.” added Altus Partners.
Dr. Pareras from HealthEquity said: “We are confident that Versantis can further build on the positive results for VS-01 generated to date and we are committed to progressing Versantis’ candidate rapidly to first-in-man to provide an option for the treatment of hepatic encephalopathy. Its strong preclinical results and novel mechanism of action, developed by Dr. Vincent Forster and Dr. Meriam Kabbaj, convinced us of the value of the research. We are excited to understand more about the potential for this therapy to benefit patients afflicted with liver diseases.
About acute liver diseases
Acute-on-Chronic Liver Failure (ACLF) and Acute Liver Failure (ALF) are rare diseases characterized by an acute decompensation of the liver supplemented by hepatic encephalopathy, a neuropsychiatric condition rapidly progressing into coma and death. These indications represent about 120'000 patients yearly in the EU and USA and continue to increase due to the aging population, and a higher prevalence of diabetes, obesity, alcohol, and drug intoxications. Pediatric patients suffering from congenital Urea Cycle Disorders (UCD) represent a third indication for VS-01 which has the potential to be the first tailored lifesaving therapy meeting the specific needs of this population.
Picture: Fotolia.com / magicmine