Exeliom Biosciences (formerly Nextbiotix), a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company leveraging its unique knowledge of the microbiome-immunomodulation axis to develop next-generation immunotherapies, announced the completion of its €24 million ($26 million) Series A with a last extension of €8 million to progress the clinical development of its therapeutic pipeline, including several clinical trials of EXL01, a novel immunotherapy with applications in cancer and in infectious diseases.
This follows on from the initial closing of €7 million in 2018, a first extension of €3 million in 2021 and the €6 million non-dilutive funding secured over the period. New international VC investor, CE-Ventures, the corporate venture capital platform of Crescent Enterprises, a leading multinational company headquartered in the United Arab Emirates, led the €8million Series A extension, joined by existing investors including VCs Auriga Partners, UI Investissement and Capital Grand Est, and Biocodex, an independent multinational pharmaceutical company.
The proceeds of the fundraising will be used primarily to progress the clinical development of Exeliom Biosciences’ lead candidate EXL01 into two new therapeutic areas: immuno-oncology and infectious diseases. EXL01 is a once daily, potentially first-in-class, microbiome-based immunotherapy containing a well characterized, unmodified, single-strain of the major dominant commensal bacterium Faecalibacterium prausnitzii.
This dominant species of the human intestinal microbiota has demonstrated highly promising immunomodulatory properties that can enhance immune system activation in the context of existing standard treatments. Through this activation, Faecalibacterium prausnitzii improves patients’ ability to respond to these treatments. EXL01 is already being evaluated in the clinic in the field of chronic inflammatory bowel diseases, as part of a Phase 1 clinical trial in Crohn’s disease patients.
In the first half of 2024, Exeliom Biosciences plans to initiate three Phase 1/2 clinical trials evaluating the combination of EXL01 with standard-of-care treatments (including immune checkpoint inhibitors) in three different cancers: gastric cancer, non-small cell lung cancer and hepatocellular carcinoma.
Exeliom Biosciences also plans to launch, in parallel, a Phase 1/2 clinical study evaluating EXL01 as an alternative to the current standard treatment (fecal transplantation) for recurrent Clostridium difficile infection.
Benjamin, Hadida, Chief Executive Officer and co-founder of Exeliom Biosiences, said:
“We are very pleased to receive the funding and strong support from our current financial partners and a new investor, CE-Ventures, who recognized our ability to open a new chapter in microbiome-based immunotherapy. Already evaluated for Crohn’s disease, our lead candidate, EXL01, based on a unique strain of F. prausnitzii,demonstrated synergistic effects with immune checkpoint inhibitors, thanks to its immuno-modulatory properties, paving the way for promising therapeutic effects in immuno-oncology. We also believe that EXL01 could be the next-generation product for the treatment of recurrent C. difficile infection to replace the donor-derived fecal matter transplant products. We now have the resources to build an ambitious pipeline-in-a-drug strategy and we look forward to starting our first additional clinical trials in early 2024”.
On leading the Series-A extension round, Tushar Singhvi, Deputy CEO and Head of Investments, Crescent Enterprises said:
“CE-Ventures is highly aware of the transformative potential that innovative fields, such as microbiome hold. It represents a frontier of scientific discovery and therapeutic potential, which we firmly believe has the power to reshape healthcare as we know it. Our investment in this sector is guided by the conviction that understanding and leveraging the microbiome could unlock significant improvements in human health and well-being.” He added: “In our quest to support pioneers in this field, Exeliom Biosciences is a valuable partner, offering a differentiated approach in the field of immuno-oncology and infectious diseases. Their work is not just about creating marketable solutions; it is about making meaningful, lasting impact. Our partnership signifies our commitment to investing in the future – a future where scientific innovation and health converge to improve lives on a global scale.”
About Exeliom Biosciences:
Exeliom Biosciences is a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company specialized in the development of microbiome-based immunotherapies with a mission to bring innovation to the treatment of inflammatory bowel diseases, cancer, and infectious diseases. Its lead asset, EXL01, a rationally selected, oral biotherapeutic product, is in clinical development for the treatment of Crohn’s disease and will soon also be evaluated in three immuno-oncology combination trials and in a recurrent C. difficile infection trial.
The Company was founded in 2016 in Paris and Dijon (France) by a renowned scientific team consisting of Prof. Harry Sokol (Professor of Gastroenterology, Saint Antoine Hospital in Paris), Dr. Philippe Langella (Research Director at INRAe) and Prof. Patrick Gervais (Professor of Process Engineering at AgroSup) who were the first to demonstrate and publish as of 2008 the properties of Faecalibacterium prausnitzii.
EXL01 is an oral biotherapeutic product containing an unmodified, single-strain of the major dominant commensal bacterium Faecalibacterium prausnitzii. EXL01 presents immuno-modulatory properties allowing synergistic effects when combined with standard of care treatments in a series of indications. EXL01 is currently being evaluated in Crohn’s disease patients in maintenance in a Phase 1 clinical trial (https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT05542355).
Faecalibacterium prausnitzii has also been identified as a key marker for the response to checkpoint inhibitors in several publications. In preclinical models, EXL01 has demonstrated its ability to boost the response to existing anti-PD1/PD-L1 treatments.