Stem cell company TreeFrog Therapeutics has received close to €3 million in non-dilutive funding from French and European programs.
The company received €450,000 from the French government as part of Phase 2 of the i-Nov Innovation Challenge, as well as €2.4 million from the European Commission as part of Phase 2 of the SME Instrument.
This funding will be used to accelerate the cGMP certification and scale-up of C-Stem, TreeFrog’s technology for the mass-production of cell therapies. Compatible with conventional bioreactors, C-Stem will turn into a regulatory body compliant bioproduction platform to service the cell therapy industry with stem cells and differentiated therapeutic cells. The company aims to deliver its first clinical-grade batches by 2021.
Maxime Feyeux, president, CSO, Treefrog Therapeutics, said: “Being supported and recognised as a strategic asset by the European Commission and by the French government marks the beginning of a new chapter in TreeFrog’s history. Over the past year, we have secured intellectual property, successfully closed a Series A round, set up the operations team and established the company’s governance. We now have two years to complete the next chapter, which is all about entering the market to provide patients with access to safe and affordable cell therapies.”
As an i-Nov winner, between now and 2020 TreeFrog Therapeutics will receive €450,000 from Bpifrance. Launched by the French Government in 2018, the ‘i-Nov Innovation Challenge Phase 2’ aims to support innovative projects led by start-ups and SMEs and accelerate the emergence of leading companies in their field, capable of global reach.
The project will also receive funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program through the SME Instrument Phase 2. TreeFrog Therapeutics will receive €2.4 million over the 2019-2022 period. The SME Instrument is a business innovation support scheme that targets SMEs in the EU member states and the H2020 associated countries. It aims to support those companies with the most innovative ideas and biggest growth potential.
The key bottleneck of the cell therapy industry today is the culture of pluripotent stem cells, which can be fragile and difficult to grow; meaning current cell therapy programs are limited by manufacturing capacity, cell processing costs and cell quality. To address this, TreeFrog Therapeutics developed C-Stem, its proprietary technology for stem cell culture; a 3D cell culture system enabling the mass production of stem cells in bioreactors with short lead times, while preserving genomic integrity. C-Stem aims to significantly lower costs and accelerate bioproduction to treat millions of patients living with currently incurable chronic and degenerative diseases, such as Parkinson’s disease, type 1 diabetes and heart failure.
Kevin Alessandri, CEO & CTO, TreeFrog Therapeutics, said: “Our focus is now on accelerating our programs. To do so, we are working on the recruitment of seasoned executives to be in charge of the cGMP certification, as well as on extending our production capacity, with a view to delivering clinical-grade batches to our partners by Q1 2021.”