Company also appoints veteran industry executive Dr. Angelos Stergiou as Chairman of the Board in anticipation of Lead program entering clinic
UTRECHT, Netherlands, September 28, 2022–(BUSINESS WIRE)–CLEARA Biotech BV (“Clera” or the “Company”), a preclinical-stage biotechnology company focused on the development of innovative and proprietary therapies for the treatment of various pathologies of “healed cell” senescence including late-stage senescence cancer and chronic disease, announced today that it closed earlier in the year a $2.5 million seed funding round, led by Apollo Health Ventures, with participation from Curie Capital BV, the ROM region of Utrecht and the Longevity Tech fund. The proceeds will be used to advance Cleara’s compounds into clinical development and further strengthen the company’s development pipeline and management team.
Cleara has optimized two lead development candidates, CL04177 and CL04183, which can eliminate scarred cancer cells present in several late-stage cancers and chronic diseases in humans. The Company aims to develop precision medicine tools that treat specific diseases with clearly niche-targeted anti-senescent lead candidates, accompanied by associated biomarkers, around its FOXO4-based D-amino acid peptides and its pipeline against senescence subtypes.
As senescent cells impair tissue function, identifying how these cells avoid apoptosis enables the prospective design of anti-senescence compounds and will be critical in determining whether homeostasis can be restored. Cleara scientists identified FOXO4 as having the potential to sequester active phosphorylated p53, preventing nuclear translocation and inducing apoptosis in scarred senescent and cancer cells. Senescent/scarred cells, as well as a range of chemoresistant and/or metastatic cancers, share unique characteristics and biomarkers that Cleara has identified, making them highly selective targets for CL04177/CL04183.
Designed and optimized based on an in-depth (3D) structural, molecular and cellular understanding of the mechanism of action of cellular wound healing and how FOXO4 retains this particular form of the cellular guardian p53, the two lead compounds potently counteract the viability of healed cancer cells in 2D and 3D organoid culture, as well as strongly reducing metastatic burden and infiltration in mice live models for metastatic colon cancer and triple negative breast cancer. In addition, they exhibit favorable pharmacokinetics and tissue distribution in mice, with MTD well above their effective dose.
Additionally, Cleara has appointed Dr. Angelos Stergiou, President and CEO of New York-based SELLAS Life Sciences, as Chairman of its Board of Directors. Dr. Stergiou is a preeminent leader in the biotechnology industry with over 20 years of experience in immuno-oncology, drug development and health economics, as well as deep expertise in finance and corporate governance.
“As Cleara’s vision is to develop new, highly innovative approaches to combat life-threatening diseases, we look forward to further developing the Company’s pipeline and advancing our preclinical studies,” said Dr. Peter de Keizer, Director general and scientific founder of Cleara. “At the same time, Dr. Stergiou’s deep expertise in cancer drug development and his impressive track record in building companies will be invaluable to use as we ramp up our preclinical and regulatory efforts in the US and EU. to enter the clinic by 2024.”
“Cleara’s novel FOXO4-based treatment approach, which leverages the unique attributes of biomarker utilization and the ability to eliminate biomarker-positive scar cells from specific subsets of senescence, has the potential to be a disruptive treatment paradigm for many cancer patients with unmet needs populations,” added Dr. Stergiou. “I look forward to working with the Board and the leadership team as the company continues to grow at such a crucial time.”
Dr. Marianne Mertens, Partner at Apollo Health Ventures, Cleara’s founding venture capital group and lead investor, concluded, “As we have worked closely with Cleara since its inception, playing a key role in building The company, Apollo Health Ventures has been extremely impressed with the progress made to date. We believe that the FOXO4-based approach, including the use of biomarkers, holds great promise for developing safe and effective drugs in multiple diseases. We also look forward to benefiting from Dr. Stergiou’s knowledge of finance and biotechnology operations. , which will have an immediate and beneficial impact on our strategy to provide patients with first-in-class and/or best-in-class cancer drugs.”
About CLEARA Biotech BV
Cleara is a preclinical-stage biopharmaceutical company, spun off from Utrecht University Medical Center (UMCU), focused on developing therapies to treat different types of “senescent” cells. Cleara’s expertise lies in understanding the molecular and biological pathways underlying these disease phenotypes in order to exploit their weak points for safe and selective clearance. Cleara’s core program is designed to generate disruptive, innovative and proprietary technology against “healed cell” senescence in advanced cancer and chronic disease. Cleara is a platform-based company that uses knowledge against senescence subtypes and develops compounds to eliminate them in the respective diseases. For more information, visit www.clearabiotech.com.
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CLEARA Biotech B.V.