TargED Biopharmaceuticals: Developing the first targeted clot busting therapy
Established in 2020, TargED Biopharmaceuticals B.V. (NL) is on a mission to accelerate thrombolysis in all forms of thrombosis – the phenomenon of blood clots blocking veins or arteries. Their lead compound, Microlyse, offers targeted and local breakdown of blood clots. Since 2020, Catalyze has collaborated on a number of successful projects with TargED, including multiple grant applications and additional strategic services. Read our interview with Marc van Moorsel, co-Founder and COO of TargED, to learn more about the partnership and the impact TargED can make with their first-in-class drug.
TargED Biopharmaceuticals: first-in-class
TargED is developing Microlyse, a first-in-class fusion protein for improved thrombolysis. This protein consists of a blood clot targeting antibody domain with an enzymatic domain, making it uniquely able to deliver the enzymatic domain to sites of thrombosis. After raising €39 million in their Series A investment round in Q1 2022, TargED is now planning to clinically validate Microlyse for two indications: acquired thrombocytopenic purpura (aTTP) and Acute Ischemic Stroke (AIS).
Microlyse is different from existing thrombolytic drugs, which most typically target fibrin. Presence of fibrin is rich in blood clots arising in the larger vessels, the macrovasculature, but often poor in blood clots in the smaller vessels, the microvasculature. Microlyse targets von Willebrand Factor which is present in all thrombi located in both the macro- and microvasculature.
Marc explains, “Our lead compound Microlyse is uniquely able to target and breakdown thrombi by degrading both vWF and fibrin.”
Clinical validation – Microlyse in aTTP and AIS
To get this breakthrough drug into the clinic, TargED selected aTTP as the first indication. Their ongoing Innovation Credit project, running until 2026, culminates in the Pivotal clinical trial of Microlyse. As aTTP is a rare disease with no effective thrombolytic therapy available, Microlyse is potentially eligible for orphan drug designation and could receive market authorization following a single successful Pivotal clinical trial.
In addition, after promising results in mice studies, AIS was selected as a second indication.
Marc says, “There have been struggles in drug development for stroke for the last 20 years. We believe Microlyse could be that one drug that will make market.”
Covering the full spectrum of thrombotic disorders
Together, aTTP and AIS cover the full spectrum of existing clot compositions. Successful clinical validation of both will thus support TargED’s ultimate goal – for Microlyse to be used for treatment of all thrombotic disorders.
“Our preclinical studies and in vitro studies show it is effective in all thrombosis scenarios. Because it’s an emergency drug intravenously administered, we only need one Phase 1 study in healthy volunteers to support various Phase 2 studies in patients, irrespective of the indication.”
Collaborating for Catalyze’s grant writing expertise
Following the founding of the company in 2020, TargED raised a €850,000 seed round, which was almost doubled with a Health Holland public-private partnership. While they had written multiple successful grant proposals themselves in the preceding years, Marc explains how he and co-Founders, Coen Maas, PhD, Steven de Maat, PhD, and Kristof Vercruysse (CEO) now needed to direct their time on other activities than grant writing. This led to the beginning of the partnership with Catalyze.
Marc recounts, “Some of our business mentors advised us that we as founders shouldn’t spend our time any longer on grant writing, and suggested us to contact Catalyze. In 2020 we began our partnership with Catalyze with successful submissions to NWO Take-off 2 and MIT R&D, which funded pre-clinical proof-of-concept and mouse model studies.”
€39 million Series A financing boost
In 2021, aiming to build on proof-of-principle for Microlyse in aTTP, TargED collaborated with Catalyze to develop their successful Innovation Credit application, requiring the preparation of a business plan, finance plan, project plan – including a market analysis for the aTTP disease indication.
As Marc points out, these documents were useful resources during the Series A fundraising process:
“When we were raising our Series A financing, we had the business plan and a project plan from the Innovation Credit project as two documents that we handed out to investors who wanted to conduct extensive due diligence. They were very useful, as these plans triggered investors to develop questions that we could answer in subsequent meetings.”
Lasting partnership along the innovation journey
Looking back on the collaboration between TargED Biopharmaceuticals and Catalyze, Marc reflects on a successful partnership:
“After Catalyze did the first funding opportunity with us, it became very efficient to continue the partnership for subsequent applications to additional programs. Because they already have the company background in writing, which is always required information.
“Also on a strategic level, it has been a fruitful collaboration. In drug development you always need more money. Working with Catalyze to clarify our funding plan enabled us to strategize what grants we could apply for to cover different subdomains of our total project. Then we can pick and choose which to go for.”