Europe's new investment firm says it's on a mission to lift up the continent's 'underexploited' science
Like many, Alexandre Mouradian saw the Covid-19 pandemic as a wake-up call. More disease emergencies are coming, he said, and he wanted to do something about it.
On Monday, he launched eureKARE, a new Paris-based venture firm aiming to bridge the gap between academia and industry. And he’s landed a $60 million Series A round to get started.
“European science remains underexploited compared to countries like the US, with the gap between academia and big pharma widening over the years,” CEO Rodolphe Besserve said in a statement.
eureKARE’s main goal is to find and launch new startups in the microbiome and synthetic biology markets, which the firm expects to hit $1.6 billion and $57 billion, respectively, by 2028. But it also plans on investing in three to five already existing companies a year. The firm already boasts three startups in its portfolio, the most advanced of which — Stellate Therapeutics — should reach the clinic in 2022.
Stellate is on a mission to decipher the gut-brain axis, or the bidirectional highway between the central nervous system and the enteric nervous system. Its lead candidate is a synthetic form of queuine, a metabolite made by bacteria that’s produced in the gut, for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s.
NovoBiome, the company’s other microbiome asset, is working on live biotherapeutics for the treatment of hepatic conditions like nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and nonalcoholic steato-hepatitis (NASH).
Then there’s Omne Possibile, which is researching xeno-nucleic acids (XNA) — synthetic genetic chains whose double helices contain different sugars than DNA or RNA.
“People think that the world is centered around only DNA and RNA,” Besserve told Endpoints News. “What we think is that we can further improve oligonucleotides, and we can improve or find new structures … that would be much more efficient than DNA or RNA.”
One application, he said, could be the development of vaccines that can remain stable at normal temperatures, to replace the current generation of mRNA shots.
“It sounds like science fiction, but in reality, I would say it already exists in the lab,” he added.
Mouradian is also the founder of Spinoza Foundation, a London-based nonprofit think tank aiming to influence public policy. Besserve was previously managing director at Société Générale, a leading French financial services company.
“Thinking outside the box is in our DNA. The rapid Covid-19 vaccine development has shown the power of human ingenuity and this model will be a core inspiration for us as we progress,” Besserve said.
eureKARE expects to announce its next investment by the end of June.
This article has been corrected to reflect that Stellate’s candidate for Parkinson’s is also being developed for Alzheimer’s.