A new cancer immune therapy spin-off of Hospital Clínic-IDIBAPS (Barcelona) secures a 1.5 million-euro investment from Invivo Ventures

Hospital Clínic – IDIBAPS (Barcelona) has founded Gyala Therapeutics, a new spin-off company focused on developing new CAR-T therapies for treating hematological malignancies. The company raised €1,500,000 of seed financing from Barcelona-based Invivo Ventures, one of Spain’s leading biomedical venture capital firms.

Gyala Therapeutics will collaborate with Dr. Manel Juan, Head of Clínic’s CDB Immunology Service and leader of the IDIBAPS’ research group on Immunogetic and immunotherapy of immune and autoinflammatory responses, who will lead the scientific progress of the program, which aims to develop a new CAR-T therapy targeting a novel target. It is expected that the new therapy may be tested in patients from 2022 onwards.

CAR-T (chimeric antigen receptor T cells) is a type of gene therapy in which T lymphocytes -a type of white blood cells that play a key role in immune responses- are extracted from the patient and modified to attack tumour cells. T lymphocytes are obtained through apheresis (a technique that allows separation of blood components) and genetically reprogrammed with a receptor that binds to a tumor factor. When these cells are transduced back to the patient, they are to specifically recognize tumour cells and attack them. Several types of CAR-T cells have demonstrated efficacy in the treatment of leukemias and B cell lymphomas.

Manel Juan has remarked that “this project will allow us to advance the development of new CAR-T therapies to treat different lymphoid neoplasms so they can quickly become available to treat our patients”.

Dr. Elias Campo, Research Director of Clínic and Director of IDIBAPS, explained: “CAR-T based therapies have shown efficacy in the treatment of certain leukemias and lymphomas. With the creation of Gyala Therapeutics we will contribute to improve treatment of this kind of diseases”.

Dr. Josep M. Campistol, General Manager of Hospital Clínic and Dr. Lluís Pareras, founding partner at Invivo Ventures, noted in a joint statement that “Fundació Clínic per a la Recerca Biomèdica and Invivo Ventures are pleased to announce that we are joining forces to develop a new CAR therapy to treat a devastating hematological malignancy. This therapy targets a previously untested antigen present on the surface of cancer cells. There is much potential in our research ecosystem, Venture Capital and Academia must be closer in order to solve important clinical needs and bring value to society.”

Albert Ferrer, founding partner at Invivo Ventures, says: “Invivo aims to support the technology transfer from Spanish research centres and enhance the growth and development of innovative products. The investment in Gyala Therapeutics is a clear example of this vision and we are particularly pleased that it enables a new business to be setup and create new jobs in this difficult economic environment”.

Governance

Gyala Therapeutics will establish a research agreement with Hospital Clínic-IDIBAPS, and collaborate with a network of Spanish and international service providers.

The Chief Executive Officer of the new spin-off will be Dr. Claudio Santos, who has a background in life sciences company creation and in business development, both in academia and industry.

Lluís Pareras and Albert Ferrer, General Partners at Invivo Ventures, managed by Invivo Capital Partners, will join Gyala Therapeutics’ Board of Directors alongside Rosa Vilavella, General Manager of Fundació Clínic per a la Recerca Biomèdica and IDIBAPS.

About Hospital Clínic 

Hospital Clínic of Barcelona is a public university hospital with a centuries-long history. With 4,500 employees, it is one of the leading healthcare centres in Spain and the first in scientific production. The hospital offers quality care, high-level excellence and competitive biomedical research and a high teaching commitment to train professionals. All of this is included in an excellent balanced management with the aim of offering society a humanized cutting-edge medicine. 

About IDIBAPS 

The Institut d’Investigacions Biomèdiques August Pi i Sunyer (August Pi i Sunyer Biomedical Research Institute – IDIBAPS) is a centre for research of excellence that tackles high-prevalence, high-morbidity and high-mortality diseases. Founded in 1996, it is a public consortium whose members are the Catalan Government, the Hospital Clínic of Barcelona, the University of Barcelona’s School of Medicine and the CSIC Biomedical Research Institute in Barcelona. 

It represents over 1,000 research professionals organised into around one hundred research groups. Its combination of basic and clinical research allows for a more effective transfer of the scientific advances obtained in the laboratory towards patients. With close to 1,100 articles published each year and an impact factor of over 6,000 points, it is Spain’s principal biomedical research centre. 

About Invivo Ventures Invivo Ventures FCR invests in early stage life sciences/healthcare companies and is managed by Invivo Capital Partners, a management company founded by Dr. Lluís Pareras and Albert Ferrer. Both managers have extensive experience in the sector and they’re also managing the venture capital firm Healthequity SCR. Invivo Ventures FCR is participated by a majority of private investors and has the support of several institutional investors such as the European Investment Fund, Fond-ICO Global, the Institut Català de Finances and the Institut Valencià de Finances.

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