Genenta Science, a Milan, Italy-based biotech startup, raised €6.2m ($7.2m) in the first tranche of its Series A funding.
Backers in the round, which is expected to close at €10m, included Banca Esperia, Mediolanum as well as private entrepreneurs, managers, and family offices.
In conjunction with the funding, Roger Abravanel – former McKinsey & Company director and board member at Luxottica (NYSE: LUX) and now board member at pharmaceutical multinational Teva (NYSE: TEVA) and Admiral Group (LSE: ADM) – and Gabriella Camboni – founder of biotech startup EOS, Ethical Oncology Science, acquired in November 2013 by Clovis Oncology (Nasdaq: CLVS) for $420m – joined Genenta’s board of directors.
The company intends to use the funds to complete pre-clinical studies and to advance in the preparation of the clinical phase for its therapeutic protocols to treat tumors.
Led by venture capitalist and former investor and board member at EOS, Pierluigi Paracchi, who is Chairman and CEO, Genenta Science develops a gene transfer strategy into autologous hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) to target interferon-α expression to tumor-infiltrating monocytes/macrophages. An HIV-derived and genetically disabled viral vector – Lentivirus – delivers the gene into the HSCs. Interferon is a protein usually produced by the body in response to infections that also exhibits a powerful anti-tumor activity. However, its clinical use as a drug has been limited by its high toxicity.
The startup si also cofounded by Luigi Naldini – Director of the San Raffaele-Telethon Institute for Gene Therapy, TIGET and of the Division of Regenerative Medicine, Stem Cells and Gene Therapy, San Raffaele Hospital, Professor of Histology and of Gene and Cell Therapy, San Raffaele University; and Bernhard Gentner – Haematologist and Physician Scientist at the San Raffaele Hospital and TIGET.