Vandria’s €3.8M collaboration with Catalyze

Vandria is a biopharmaceutical company that develops first-in-class mitophagy inducers that rejuvenate cells to treat age-related chronic diseases of the CNS, muscle, lung and liver. Over the past year Catalyze and Vandria collaborated towards Vandria’s CHF 2.5 million (€2.7M) grant from Innosuisse Start-up Innovation Projects and €1.1 million grant from Eurostars. The funding enables Vandria to enter the next stage of development for their two lead drug candidates. We heard from Pénélope Andreux, Chief Scientific Officer, about the importance of these projects, and her experiences working with Catalyze.

The Vandria team outside their office in Lausanne, Switzerland, with Pénélope Andreux, Chief Scientific Officer, right-centre. Image provided by Vandria.

Vandria: At the vanguard of mitochondrial therapeutics

Vandria is a platform company that was born with the mission to develop new chemical entities targeting the mitophagy process – a critical process for maintaining proper cellular functions, whereby the cell removes damaged mitochondria. Using their proprietary in vitro screening platform, Vandria have generated a novel pipeline of next generation small molecule mitophagy inducers.

Pénélope highlights, “Our mechanism of action enables us to target different diseases, which is reflected in our broad choice of indications. Our pipeline is divided over four programs, with our most advanced being the ‘CNS Program’ and ‘Muscle Program’. The SIP and Eurostars projects will push forward our two lead compounds from these programs one step further.”

SIP project: Clinical study in Major Depressive Disorder

In their SIP project Vandria is developing VNA-318, a first-in-class therapeutic for the treatment of cognitive dysfunction leveraging the mechanism of mitophagy. Following 2 previous years of pre-clinical development, Vandria will now conduct a pioneering clinical study in Major Depressive Disorder.

Pénélope describes the importance of this project:

“The transition to the clinic is a very important step for us, which comes with a significant investment in terms of time, risk and money. To have this study supported by the SIP really helps us to expand our resources to the next round of financing and towards important milestones we need to reach to demonstrate efficacy.”

Eurostars project, M-PLUS

‘M-PLUS’, the €1.1 million Eurostars project, will advance the development of mitophagy drug candidate VNA-052, a first-in-class novel therapeutic for the treatment of muscle diseases targeting the mitophagy process, towards first-in-human readiness. VNA-052 has the unique potential to become the first therapeutic approved in its lead indication, sporadic inclusion body myositis (sIBM) – the most common myopathy in people over 50. Making up the project consortium are Biomeostasis, Bi/ond Solutions, and Assistance Publique – Hôpitaux de Paris (AP-HP).

Pénélope says, “What I like with Eurostars is that it’s a consortium project. We have a strong group of partners, which makes us confident that we can achieve key aims. It will enable Vandria to generate additional data with VNA-052 in a broad range of models – because through Biomeostasis, Bi/ond Solutions and SP-HP, we will have access to new animal models, organoids, and patient samples, respectively. We also see that we can create great synergy within the consortium and help each other to create new models. This is really a fantastic opportunity.”

Getting Catalyze’s support with M-PLUS

As Pénélope explains, the collaboration started with the successful resubmission of the Eurostars project.

“In the past I had tried to apply for Eurostars, but without the help of a group like Catalyze. It was a challenge, because this grant is a huge piece of work to write and to manage. I really saw the difference of Catalyze’s support during our resubmission to Eurostars.”

The overall collaboration on SIP and Eurostars

Shortly after working on the awarded Eurostars, Vandria and Catalyze collaborated on their SIP submission. The CHF 2.5 million award made it two out of two successful collaborations between Catalyze and Vandria, in a highly effective partnership.

Pénélope describes the collaboration, “First, people at Catalyze have delivered a high-quality work. Even though we worked on two different grants with different people, the quality was high across both proposals. Something I see overall with Catalyze is the quality of communication is also very good. The second point is that Catalyze helps us staying on time, by closely following the deadlines. That is extremely helpful.

“A third important point, is that we saw across both applications that our consultants were keeping the projects close to their heart and putting in all their best efforts, as if they were part of our company.”

Pénélope finishes, “We are very happy that now we have two grants, thanks to the support of Catalyze.”

Project management for M-PLUS

The collaboration continues as Catalyze provides project management of the Eurostars project. Pénélope explains why they decided to continue working with Catalyze towards project delivery:

“We decided to go for the project management with Catalyze because we had such a good experience in writing the project together, and we saw the quality of people at Catalyze.”



Read Vandria’s official press release

Download our Start-up Innovation Projects Guide

Download our Eurostars Guide


A must-have if you’re interested in getting your business to the next level