Anokion SA, a Lausanne, Swuitzerland-based developer of a technology for retraining white blood cells to induce therapeutic immune tolerance, closed a CHF33m (approximately $37.5m) Series A financing round.
The round was co-led by Novartis Venture Fund, Novo Ventures and Versant Ventures, with participation from private investors. Following the closure of the financing round, Florent Gros (Managing Director of Novartis Venture Fund), Jack Nielsen (Partner at Novo Ventures), and Tom Woiwode (Managing Director at Versant Ventures) joined the Board of Directors. In addition, André J. Mueller and Harry Welten joined the Board as Independent Directors. Jens Kurth, who most recently directed Novartis’ key biologics projects, joined the management team as Chief Technology Officer.
The company intends to use the funds to develop clinical candidates in the areas of immune-masked protein therapeutics, autoimmune and allergic diseases. First clinical trials are planned for 2017.
Founded as a spin-off from the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) by Jeff Hubbell, Professor and founder of the Institute of Bioengineering at the EPFL, Professor at the Institute of Molecular Engineering at the University of Chicago, Anokion is applying its antigen-specific immune tolerance technology to reduce the immunogenicity of therapeutic proteins and to treat autoimmune and allergic diseases.
The company has already demonstrated the efficacy of its technology by creating a tolerogenic form of asparaginase, a protein drug from E. coli used to treat a form of leukemia.
Anokion is an exclusive licensee of EPFL’s patent filings covering this technology.