Promethera looks to Asia with €10m investment

Belgium-based liver disease specialists Promethera Biosciences have received a leg-up for the Asian market in the form of a €10 million investment from Japanese business conglomerate ITOCHU Corporation.

ITOCHU is the first lead investor in Promethera’s Series D round, which the company expects to close in Q1 2019. Following the transaction, Tajio Enoki, manager, medical business team, chemicals division, energy & chemicals company, ITOCHU Corporation, will join the company’s Board of Directors as a director.

Beyond the investment, ITOCHU intends to support Promethera to advance its product and business development strategy in Asia. The scope of the relationship includes R&D support for Promethera’s HepaStem development program in acute-on-chronic liver failure (ACLF), non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) and urea cycle disorder (UCD) in selected Asian markets.

“We are very honored to have ITOCHU Corporation a premier Japanese conglomerate with a strong outreach to the wider Asian hemisphere, come in as the first lead investor in our next fundraising effort,” said John Tchelingerian, Promethera’s president and CEO.

“With HepaStem at the core of our relationship with ITOCHU, we expect to make important progress in our plan to develop the world’s first cell-based treatment for severe chronic and acute liver diseases as a tangible alternative to liver transplantation,” added Proffesor Etienne Sokal, CMO and founder of Promethera.

HepaStem consists of liver-derived Mesenchymal Stem Cells that are obtained from ethically healthy donated human organs and expanded in the lab. The product candidate is currently being evaluated in a phase 2a clinical trial in the indication ACLF with safety and initial efficacy results expected to be available early 2019. The initiation of clinical trials in NASH is expected for 2019.

In addition to the first tranche of the Series D round, Promethera has recently raised €14.6 million through the issuance of convertible bonds to existing and new investors, bringing the total amount raised in by the company to date to more than €90 million.

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