May 28, 2024

CE-Ventures announces its final close of the USD 26mln Series A funding round

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Tushar Singhvi, Deputy CEO and Head of Investments, Crescent Enterprises
Tushar Singhvi, Deputy CEO and Head of Investments, Crescent Enterprises

CE-Ventures, the corporate venture capital platform of Crescent Enterprises, a leading global, diversified business headquartered in the UAE, announced that it successfully led the extension to the Series A funding round totalling US$26 million in Exeliom Biosciences, a France-based, clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company specialised in the development of microbiome-based immunotherapies. Exeliom Biosciences is on a mission to bring innovation to the pharmaceutical treatment of inflammatory bowel diseases, cancer, and infectious diseases.

Crescent Enterprises & Exeliom Biosciences logo
Crescent Enterprises & Exeliom Biosciences logo

The microbiome consists of all living organisms – including microbes, bacteria, protozoa, and fungi, that reside in and on the human body, mostly in the gastrointestinal tract and on the skin. The human microbiome market is projected to reach US$3.1 billion by 2029 from USD 600 million in 2021, at a CAGR of 23 percent.

The capital raised will be used primarily to progress the clinical development of Exeliom Biosciences’ lead candidate EXL01 in Immuno-Oncology. EXL01 is a, once-daily, potentially first-in-class, microbiome-based immunotherapy containing a well-characterised, unmodified, single-strain of the major dominant commensal bacterium Faecalibacterium prausnitzii (F. prausnitzii).

In the rapidly expanding field of microbiome-based therapeutics, interest has turned to identifying specific strains of bacteria that may increase responsiveness to existing treatments. F. prausnitzii has been identified as particularly predictive of response to immune checkpoint inhibitors in several cancers. Additional pre-clinical data generated by Exeliom Biosciences showed that EXL01 boosts the activation of the immune system in the context of treatment with immune checkpoint inhibitors and thus increases response to this type of treatment in vivo.

EXL01 will be evaluated in combination with immune checkpoint inhibitors in 3 different cancers (gastric cancer, non-small cell lung cancer, and hepatocellular carcinoma) in investigator-led Phase 1/2 studies.

The funds will also be used to evaluate EXL01 in Phase 1/2 investigator-led study for the treatment of recurrent C. difficile infection in replacement of the standard-of-care (fecal matter transplant) as a next-generation microbiome-based product.

On leading the Series A round, Tushar Singhvi, Deputy CEO and Head of Investments, Crescent Enterprises said: “CE-Ventures is excited and bullish about the transformative potential that innovative fields, such as microbiome hold. It represents a frontier of scientific discovery and therapeutic potential, which we firmly believe has the power to reshape healthcare as we know it. Our investment in this sector is guided by the conviction that understanding and leveraging the microbiome could unlock significant improvements in human health and well-being.”

He added: “In our quest to support pioneers in this field, Exeliom Biosciences is a valuable partner offering a differentiated approach in the field of immuno-oncology and infectious diseases. Their work is not just about creating marketable solutions; it is about making meaningful, lasting impact. Our partnership signifies our commitment to investing in the future – a future where scientific innovation and health converge to improve lives on a global scale.”

Benjamin, Hadida, Chief Executive Officer of Exeliom Biosiences
Benjamin, Hadida, Chief Executive Officer of Exeliom Biosiences

Benjamin, Hadida, Chief Executive Officer of Exeliom Biosiences, said: “We are very pleased to receive the funding and strong support from our current financial partners and a new investor, CE-Ventures, who recognised our ability to open a new chapter in microbiome-based immunotherapy. Already evaluated for Crohn’s disease, our lead candidate, EXL01, based on a unique strain of F. prausnitzii, demonstrated synergistic effects with immune checkpoint inhibitors, thanks to its immuno-modulatory properties, paving the way for promising therapeutic effects in immuno-oncology. We also believe that EXL01 could be the next-generation product for the treatment of recurrent C. difficile infection to replace the donor-derived fecal matter transplant products. We now have the resources to build an ambitious pipeline-in-a-drug strategy and we look forward to starting our first additional clinical trials in early 2024.”

Other investors in the funding round included global venture capital (VC) firms Auriga Partners, UI investissement, and Biocodex, an independent multinational pharmaceutical corporation.

CE-Ventures, the corporate venture capital platform of Crescent Enterprises, focuses on technology-enabled, high-growth companies, and venture capital funds globally. CE-Ventures has deployed over USD 300mn globally, across more than 50 investments.

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