VarmX was awarded up to €17.5M blended funding from EIC Accelerator
VarmX is a spin-off from the Leiden University Medical Center (LUMC), on a mission to develop and manufacture therapeutic proteins that restore hemostasis in patients treated with anticoagulants. Catalyze recently supported their successful application for blended finance from the EIC Accelerator programme, to upscale and accelerate the manufacture of VarmX’s lead compound, VMX-C001. In October 2021, VarmX was awarded the maximum amounts of up to €2.5 million grant financing and up to €15 million in equity investment. Read on to learn more about VarmX, and hear what VarmX Founder, Professor Pieter Reitsma, had to say about their EIC application and working with Catalyze.
“The Catalyze team did an excellent job in making sure that all boxes are ticked so that the best possible score comes within reach.” – Prof. Pieter Reitsma, VarmX Founder
VarmX: addressing a need for a safe anticoagulant reversal agent
For over 70 years patients relied solely on indirect anticoagulants, such as Warafin, to prevent venous thrombosis and stroke. However, safe dosage requires continuous, long-term monitoring. New therapeutic developments led to production of direct oral anticoagulants (DOAC), which are safer and require less monitoring. Today, more than 50 million patients worldwide depend upon oral anticoagulants. In the US and EU, over 10 million patients take the latest generation of DOAC: Factor Xa-DOACs, which prevent blood clotting by inhibiting human factor Xa – an important enzyme in the coagulation cascade. Yet a major drawback remains: 2-3% of patients taking factor Xa-DOACs experience spontaneous, severe life-threatening bleeding.
VarmX’s lead compound, VMX-C001, is a reversal agent aimed at restoring blood clotting in patients treated with Factor Xa-DOACs. It is a potentially life-saving treatment for spontaneous bleeding caused by trauma or emergency surgery. The development of VMX-C001 is based on innovative research performed by VarmX founder, Professor Pieter Reitsma of LUMC. Prof. Reitsma’s lab investigated the properties of factor Xa extracted from snake venom – from the Australian brown snake, named Pseudonaja textilis – and of human factor Xa.
Through combining the properties of snake factor Xa, which causes human blood to clot even in the presence of factor Xa inhibitors, with those of human factor Xa, VarmX created VMX-C001; an engineered human protein that still clots blood in the presence of factor Xa inhibitors. Therefore, VMX-C001 has the potential to be used to restore hemostasis in patients taking factor Xa-DOACs.
From preclinical studies to market with EIC Accelerator
Since its incorporation, VarmX has conducted extensive preclinical studies on its compound, demonstrating that VMX-C001 promises to be an effective Factor Xa DOAC reversal agent, displaying no procoagulant potential.
In their EIC Accelerator project, VarmX was awarded the maximum blended funding amount of up to €17.5 million. This award will fuel VarmX’s next stage of development: accelerating upscaling and improving the cost-effectiveness of manufacturing VMX-C001.
Catalyze provided full application support to VarmX for their application. Prof. Pieter Reitsma shared the following quote, describing his experience of applying to this challenging programme, with the support of Catalyze:
“Applying for an EIC accelerator grant is not made easy and demands detailed understanding of the exact requirements that make up a successful application. The story that the application tells needs to be perfect from so many different angles that it may bedazzle an applicant.
“The Catalyze team did an excellent job in making sure that all boxes are ticked so that the best possible score comes within reach.”
Visit the VarmX website