Ilias Biologics Inc. (previously Cellex Life Sciences, Inc.), a Daejeon, South Korea-based exosome-based therapeutics company, completed a Series B financing round of $20.6m.
The initial investors from the Series A round, HB Investment, Timefolio Asset Management, and Daedeok Venture Partners joined this round with follow-on investment. The new institutional investors, including Asset One, Devsisters Ventures, Meritz Securities, Kiwoom Securities, Daishin Securities, Hanyang Securities/Yeolim Partners, and Genie Asset Management joined this round along with a small number of private investors.
Ilias has raised a total of $40.2m of capital since its foundation in November 2015.
This financing will support the continued development of the company’s proprietary EXPLOR® (Exosome engineering for Protein Loading via Optically Reversible protein–protein interaction) platform technology and the advancement of exosome-based therapeutics pipeline. Ilias recently published promising preclinical data on its lead therapeutic candidate, ILB-202, in Science Advances, and secured a key exosome engineering patent from the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) in July. While the company plans to submit the IND application to U.S. FDA and initiate the first-in-human clinical trial by the 2nd half of 2021 targeting an undisclosed acute inflammatory disease, it is also in active discussion with multiple pharmaceutical companies for potential research collaborations.
EXPLOR® technology is a novel protein-loading method that enables free form loading of large therapeutic cargo proteins into the lumen of exosomes—nanosized, cell-derived extracellular vesicles—by genetically engineering the producing cell lines. While exosomes have been actively studied as novel therapeutic vehicles for intracellular drug delivery, the controllable loading of therapeutic cargo proteins as a free form in the exosomal lumen has remained a technical hurdle.
The company’s technology provides a solution to overcome this challenge and increase the efﬁciency of therapeutic protein delivery into the intracellular component of target cells.
Led by Dr. Chulhee Choi, CEO, Ilias Biologics is currently developing various pipelines including inflammatory diseases and oncology. The company has been recently finalizing the underwriter contract with securities companies, planning for an IPO to KOSDAQ (Korea Securities Dealers and Automated Quotation) in Q1 2022.