ExeVir lands European venture debt financing to develop novel nanobody COVID-19 therapy

The European Investment Bank (EIB) and ExeVir BIO BV (ExeVir) have signed a €25 million venture debt financing agreement to advance the development of ExeVir’s novel COVID-19 therapeutic.

The financing is part of the EIB’s COVID-19 response and is backed by the InnovFin Infectious Diseases Finance Facility (IDFF) under Horizon 2020, the European Union’s research and innovation programme. ExeVir is harnessing its llama-derived antibody (VHH) technology platform to generate multi-specific antibodies for prophylaxis and treatment of infectious diseases. The EIB financing will help advance ExeVir’s lead asset, XVR012, into clinical trials for COVID-19.

In addition to bringing this product to the market in the coming years, ExeVir intends to expand its pipeline to other infectious diseases as part of its pandemic preparedness strategy. The EIB financing will thus be of a high added value to ExeVir as it will provide stable, long-term and non-dilutive capital to support ExeVir’s R&D activities and clinical development.

The company’s initial focus is on prevention of COVID-19 for immunocompromised patient populations (approximately 3% of the general Western population) with a high unmet need due to the limitations of current vaccines and therapeutic approaches.

EIB vice-president Kris Peeters said: “Developing advanced therapeutics for infectious diseases is key to protect our population, especially the most vulnerable. The EIB Group has worked closely with the European Commission to mobilise billions for both the urgent and the long-term response to COVID-19 in recent years.

“Our support for ExeVir is another example of how the EIB, as the EU bank and a public lender, has backed promising startups thanks to the guarantee of the European Union’s InnovFin programme. This programme has enabled us to build momentum in the all-important biotech, medical and health sectors and help create a truly European ecosystem in which innovation flourishes, and focused R&D can generate real benefits for our economies and, ultimately, our citizens.”

Supporting innovation and R&D in Europe is one of the EIB’s key goals, and biotech companies such as ExeVir are instrumental for the EU economy and European scientific knowledge and progress. This investment will undoubtedly strengthen Belgium’s and the European Union’s position in the innovative COVID-19 therapeutics market as well as in pandemic preparedness.

Dr Torsten Mummenbrauer, CEO of ExeVir, said: “The ExeVir team has quickly developed significant expertise in leveraging its modular nanobody platform to address COVID-19. We are now using that experience to find rapid, effective solutions for new variants of this infectious disease, particularly as interventions to protect and treat the immunocompromised population that continues to live in fear.

“COVID-19 has proven to be a devastating and highly unpredictable disease for this most vulnerable population. We are extremely pleased to secure the EIB’s support and endorsement at such a pivotal time for the company, to ensure this unmet need in relation to COVID-19 is addressed and preparations are in place for future pandemics.”

Fiona du Monceau, COO of ExeVir, said: “This funding from the EIB will support the development of our lead asset, XVR012. It will allow us to advance on our scientific roadmap, as well as help us to pursue our ambitious growth strategy and establish us as a truly European biotech champion combatting infectious diseases with high unmet medical needs.

“With EIB’s help, we can continue to focus on protecting populations for whom vaccines are not sufficient and who are unable to use antiviral therapies, such as the immunocompromised, as well as on preparing for future pandemics. We aim to bring our first product to market which has the potential to become a critical instrument in the toolbox for combating COVID-19.”

With this commitment, the EIB will catalyse the development of an innovative COVID-19 therapeutic, providing an important signal of confidence to other investors, while creating significant long-term value and impact.

The loan could not have happened without the backing of the European Union’s InnovFin Infectious Diseases Finance Facility (IDFF), which enables the EIB to fund high-risk projects that aim to combat infectious diseases, develop compounds, drugs or medical devices, and support their future commercialisation.

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