French biotech armed with Series A looks to build out manufacturing facility for plant-based protein tech
Using plant-based supply to manufacture vaccines and other pharmaceutical materials has become more prevalent in the biotech space, but one French biotech is looking to apply it to the cell therapy market.
Core Biogenesis, based in Strasbourg, France, uses a plant-based bioproduction platform to produce proteins. According to CEO Alexandre Reeber, the company uses camelina, otherwise known as wild flax traditionally used in gastronomy, to manufacture proteins from the seeds of the plant. Core has secured $10.5 million in a Series A to push its tech forward.
The company produces its proteins in the seeds of the plants and harvests them using basic agricultural methods. Once inside the seeds, researchers extract the molecules and then purify them with their technology, leaving them with raw materials that can then be applied to pharmaceutical products. The company has set its sights on providing patients with cell therapy.
According to Reeber, the idea for the company came during an internship at a Strasbourg hospital’s oncology unit. He first encountered cell therapy at the unit but found it very expensive to manufacture. Two years later in 2020, the other co-founder, Chouaib Meziadi, was doing a post-doc on plant epigenetics where he identified the combination of three key genes involved in the defense mechanisms of the plant. The two eventually formed the company later that year.
“This key innovation will allow us to mass produce recombinant proteins, and with mass production also comes a drastic reduction in the price of the process,” Reeber said in an interview with Endpoints News.
Reeber said while the company previously has netted some seed investment of around $3 million, their Series A now will go towards scaling up their manufacturing capabilities and opening a new facility. The round also gives the company a runway of two years, but Reeber said the company will be looking at another round of financing to accelerate commercialization.
For their new manufacturing facility, which is still under construction, Reeber said it is planning to come online sometime in Q1 or Q2 next year. Around 600 square meters of the facility are dedicated to growing the plants in growth chambers with another 100 square meters dedicated to extraction in purification. The location of the facility will be in the city center of Strasbourg.
Reeber also has a team of 30 people working at the facility and will look to hire a director of manufacturing.
While Reeber and Core Biogenesis are focused on cell therapy, he is joining other manufacturing startups that are using novel techniques in the industry.
According to Reeber, several factors set the company from the rest of the pack. Core promises to offer a more cost-efficient product by using camelina, which he said can guarantee a bioactive and stable supply chain, but it also cuts down on using animal-derived products.
“And so inherent to the use of plants we are completely animal-origin free and bio-risk free with zero risk of contamination of the most annoying contaminants that are usually seen inside of gene therapy,” he said.
Reeber also states that his product is heavily sustainable. With most companies using bioreactor-based fermentation, the company’s method is carbon negative and produces far fewer pollutants than what can be found by their competitors in the space.
As far as customers and partners are concerned, Reeber said that they have started with a few select partners and early adopters of their technology but now are open for more as they head toward full commercialization.
The funding round was led by XAnge, with other investors including Blue Horizon Ventures and Thia Ventures.