In November 2020, TargED Biopharmaceuticals from Utrecht, The Netherlands, announced that they closed a seed investment round, and agreed on a public-private partnership with the UMC Utrecht. For the Utrecht Health Seed Fund, this marked their first closing since opening the fund for investments in April 2020.
TargED’s team has hit the ground running and is rapidly making steps to advance their groundbreaking clot-busting drug, Microlyse. UHSF had the opportunity to sit together with the team for a short interview, to talk about their exciting goals and challenges. Five questions, as the team was eager to get back to the lab!
What are you developing and for whom?
“Thrombosis is a disease that clogs up the vasculature that is essential to provide the human body of essential elements such as energy and oxygen. Thrombosis of the large blood vessels can be removed via a surgical procedure, but this approach does not work for the smaller blood vessels (microvasculature). The latter can only be treated with therapeutic agents that slowly dissolve the blood clot. Unfortunately, current therapeutics have a limited efficacy and have serious side effects. To address the shortcomings of existing therapeutics, we have developed Microlyse, a novel therapeutic compound that works completely different than wat is currently used. While we have originally developed Microlyse for the rare thrombotic disease TTP, we have preliminary evidence that Microlyse could also work well in other thrombotic diseases such as stroke.”
Can you tell us about your team?
“TargED currently consists of the four founders together with three investors. Coen Maas (associate professor @ UMCU; CSO) and Steven de Maat (Post-Doc @ UMCU; CTO) are the original inventors of Microlyse and will help TargED to complete the development of Microlyse both in in-vivo studies as well as product development. Marc van Moorsel (PhD-candidate @ UMCU; COO) leads the business development of TargED and together with Kristof Vercruysse (CEO) forms the management board. Kristof brings a wealth of knowledge to the team from his past experience with the development of Caplacizumab for TTP (Sanofi). Additionally, he supported the development of several compounds from Proof of Concept in animals to marketing approval. Recently, TargED received its seed investment from Utrecht Health Seed Fund, Curie Capital and Fonds InvesteringsRijpe Starters (FIRST). The team is relatively young, but brings outstanding scientific acumen, combined with industry experience from Kristof, and is very eager to bring Microlyse to the market. We look forward to the challenges and success to come!”
What are the key challenges that you are facing as an early stage life science venture?
“Development of a novel therapeutic is a long and costly process. As such, TargED needs to prove that it’s worth the investment. Hereto, we are currently focusing on showing that our product, Microlyse, is effective in multiple forms of thrombosis. In addition, three of us experienced a transition from being solely scientific researchers to being both researcher and academic entrepreneur. A start-up company raises countless, but very interesting discussions outside our comfort zones, i.e., we have to develop ourselves as well as the company.”
What does this seed investment mean for the development of TargED?
“The potential of Microlyse is huge, but needs to be proven. With the investment of Utrecht Health Seed Fund, FIRST fund and Curie Capital, it allows TargED to do exactly that. We will show proof-of-concept in various disease models of thrombosis and start with toxicity studies that are required to eventually receive EMA/FDA market approval. Furthermore, we will further develop the Microlyse compound itself, which allows for producing in a professional setting on a large industrial scale.”
What, in your wildest dreams, will be the impact of TargED for society in the long run?
“Microlyse could be a safe, one-stop-solution in any situation where thrombosis is suspected. This includes millions of peoples worldwide each year. In addition, we will also attempt to develop novel methods for the identification of thrombosis in the smaller blood vessels, which to date, is not possible. This would greatly help patients to receive the proper treatment as fast as possible.”
UHSF Fund Manager Jaap de Bruin said: “We’re very excited about TargED as our first investment of the Utrecht Health Seed Fund. The potential of TargED’s product for patients is enormous, and we look very much forward to working with this outstanding team. I would like to thank once more UHSF’s founders & funders, i.e. UMC Utrecht, University of Utrecht, and the European Regional Development Fund (through the Kansen voor West program), who have made this fund, and hence this investment, possible.”
For more information regarding TargED:
For more information regarding UHSF: