Ribonexus receives €2M in deep tech financing from Bpifrance
Funds will allow Ribonexus to select best drug candidate to enter preclinical development for melanoma treatment
Villejuif, France, April 12, 2022 – Ribonexus, a biotechnology start-up developing new therapies that can overcome resistance to current targeted therapies in cancer patients, today announces it has received €2 million ($2.19M) in funds from the French public investment bank Bpifrance.
This financing, which has been granted in connection with the French government’s ‘Deeptech Plan’, will enable Ribonexus to select the best drug candidate to enter preclinical development and leverage its proprietary platform based on a key selective pathway.
The company will receive two instalments via the French government’s ‘Future Investments Program’: €1.4M ($1.53M) in the form of a repayable advance and €600k ($658k) in grants.
Ribonexus, whose R&D programs focus on the treatment of melanoma, is developing a pipeline of molecules targeting the eukaryotic translation Initiation Factor-4A (eIF4A). This target is highly active in a variety of solid and hematologic cancers, including melanoma, and is associated with resistance to many current therapies. Inhibiting eIF4A appears therefore to be a promising therapeutic approach.
“Following our recent partnership with the leading pharmaceutical group Pierre Fabre, this funding is a clear recognition of the high potential of our pipeline, aiming to restore sensitivity and avoid resistance to current targeted therapies to dramatically improve the standard of care in cancer patients,” said Alejo Chorny, COO at Ribonexus. “Thanks to this strong pipeline, our experienced team of drug developers, scientists and investors, and this financing, we are well positioned to prepare our Series A funding round and proceed with IND-enabling studies.”
Ribonexus’ long-term strategy includes reinforcing its early-stage oncology pipeline and expertise to assess and expand its programs beyond melanoma to treat other cancer indications. The company is also looking to establish a licence agreement with a pharmaceutical / biopharma company based on the clinical data generated through the eIF4A inhibitor program.
The deep tech financing provided by Bpifrance is intended to fund the research and development phases of innovative, breakthrough projects prior to their industrial and commercial launch. Established in 2019, the Deeptech plan is comprised of funds worth €2.5Bn ($2.72Bn) over five years, with the objective of financing the creation of 500 start-ups each year.
Targeting the eIF4A protein to overcome resistance to cancer therapies
While targeted therapies have clearly improved cancer patient outcomes, global efficacy of these treatments decreases over time, with patients rapidly developing resistance to therapies. Moreover, even with therapies that lead to a complete response, small populations of cancer cells often survive treatments, driving cancer relapse, which remains one of the most challenging obstacles to effective treatments.
EIF4A, an RNA helicase, is one of the three proteins composing the eIF4F complex, essential for the cap-dependent translation initiation of many oncogenic proteins.
The abnormal activity of this complex, observed in many cancers, leads to the synthesis of proteins involved in tumor growth and metastasis. In addition, the selective translation of cellular mRNAs, controlled by this eIf4F complex, also contributes to the resistance to cancer treatments such as targeted therapies and checkpoint inhibitors.
Ribonexus aims to avoid resistance to BRAF and MEK inhibitors and restore sensitivity to these inhibitors in patients that become resistant to treatment.
Ribonexus (previously Aglaia Therapeutics) is a biotechnology start-up developing promising new oncology therapies. The company aims to deliver best- and first- in class drugs that restore sensitivity to current targeted therapies in cancer patients that have become resistant to these treatments. Ribonexus has established a pipeline of small molecules, targeting the initiation of mRNA translation, which the company acquired and developed through Pierre Fabre.
Based in Villejuif, near Paris, France, Ribonexus was co-founded in 2021 by Advent France Biotechnology (AFB). To start its preclinical activities, the company raised €4M ($4.7M) in seed funding from AdBio partners, Credit Mutuel Innovation and Pierre Fabre.