Cristal Therapeutics, a biopharmaceutical company, has raised more than 6 million euros from investors including new-comer Chemelot Ventures. Existing investors Thuja Capital, BioGeneration Ventures, Nedermaas, Utrecht University Holding and Beheer Innovatiefonds Provincie Limburg also participated.
Biopharmaceutical company Cristal Therapeutics has completed a new financing round of over €6 million which includes investments from new and existing investors and a national innovation fund. Venture capital investor Chemelot Ventures joins as a new shareholder and existing investors Thuja Capital, BioGeneration Ventures, Nedermaas, Utrecht University Holding and Beheer Innovatiefonds Provincie Limburg also contributed. The financing will be used to launch the first clinical study of Cristal Therapeutics’ most advanced therapy, CriPec® docetaxel. Joost Holthuis, co-founder of Cristal Therapeutics and former CEO of OctoPlus, has also been appointed CEO with effect from 1 December.
Cristal Therapeutics develops new therapies against cancer and other diseases, such as chronic inflammatory disorders, by using its patented CriPec® technology to entrap existing and new drugs in polymer nanoparticles of 0.0001 mm diameter. These nanoparticles provide better distribution throughout the body and a more selective release of the drugs, such as anti-cancer drugs in the case of tumours. Therefore, products based on CriPec® may provide improved efficacy and fewer side effects, offering improved treatment of various diseases.
First clinical study to start in early 2015
In a range of studies performed since 2011, Cristal Therapeutics has demonstrated the safety and efficacy of various CriPec® nanomedicines in preclinical studies. In the next few years, the first product, CriPec® docetaxel for the treatment of cancer, will be developed further and tested on humans. If successful, this will enable chemotherapy to proceed more selectively and efficiently, with fewer undesirable side effects. Early in 2015, the first clinical study to evaluate CriPec® docetaxel will commence.
Dr Joost Holthuis, the new CEO of Cristal Therapeutics, comments on this financing round:
‘Chemelot Ventures joining our group of pre-eminent investors represents a growing commitment to nanomedicine. The continuing commitment and support of our existing investors is extremely important to our business. That commitment reflects the potential of the drug candidates developed by Cristal Therapeutics on the basis of the CriPec® technology.’
Marcel Kloosterman, investment manager of Chemelot Ventures:
‘We are impressed by the focus, knowledge and commitment of the Cristal Therapeutics management team. We are pleased to support the company in its efforts to develop a unique new treatment for patients with solid tumours. Cristal Therapeutics’ technology is enabling a more effective use of existing medicines with fewer side effects for the patient and also demonstrates its social relevance. Additionally, Cristal Therapeutics is contributing to a substantial increase in high-grade biopharmaceutical knowledge in our Limburg region in the Netherlands. We look forward to the start of the first clinical study with great confidence.’
Dr Joost Holthuis appointed as CEO
Co-founder Dr Joost Holthuis has succeeded its founder Dr Cristianne Rijcken as CEO of the company, effective since December 1, 2014. Dr Holthuis has an extensive career in the biotech field and founded OctoPlus, which was listed on the Amsterdam stock exchange, and CEO of between 1995 and 2008. In addition to serving on supervisory boards of various highly promising biotech start-ups, Dr Holthuis is also a venture partner at biotech venture capital investor BioGeneration in Naarden.
Dr Rijcken, CEO since its incorporation in 2011, will become Chief Scientific Officer (CSO). Dr Rijcken, together with Joost Holthuis, launched Cristal Therapeutics as a spin-off of the Department of Pharmaceutics of Utrecht University.
Joost Holthuis says:
‘I want to thank Cristianne in particular for her ceaseless commitment to Cristal Therapeutics since our joint start. Her exceptional knowledge and passion for the development of new pharmaceutical therapies will be brought even more to the fore following her appointment as Chief Scientific Officer. I am looking forward to our renewed collaboration in this important period of transformation for Cristal Therapeutics.’
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About Cristal Therapeutics and CriPec® docetaxel
Cristal Therapeutics, established in Maastricht, focuses on the development of nanomedicines with improved therapeutic efficacy. The pipeline comprises of products based on drugs in development and also on the market, in combination with the patented CriPec® platform, for the treatment of various diseases, including cancer and chronic inflammatory disorders.
CriPec® transforms drugs into polymer nanoparticles via an innovative process. These nanoparticles provide improved distribution throughout the body. The substantial improvement of the efficacy and safety of the drugs entrapped in CriPec® nanoparticles has already been demonstrated in animal studies. Cristal Therapeutics has demonstrated the benefits of CriPec® for various molecules, including peptide drugs (an anticancer drug transported by a protein that is important for the tumour), as well as for applications such as active targeting for more selective treatment. The results to date have contributed to the company’s present innovative product portfolio.
About Chemelot Ventures
Chemelot Ventures is a venture capital investor in Life Sciences (including drug delivery) and Performance Materials (including polymers). The company aims to further strengthen hubs in these industries on and around the Chemelot Campus and Maastricht Health Campus, two leading European scientific and research hubs. Chemelot Ventures continues to actively support its portfolio companies after it has made its investment, drawing on its extensive network in the financial world, the industry and the region. Chemelot Ventures is the successor fund of Limburg Ventures which started in 2004 and made 22 investments.