French ophthalmic diseases gene therapy developer Horama nets €4M; backers include Omnes, Sham, and GO
Horama (www.horama.fr), one of the leaders in ophthalmic diseases gene therapy, has announced that it has completed a €4 million Series A financing with a syndicate composed of Omnes Capital, Sham Innovation Santé advised by Turenne Capital and GO Capital (via its fund GO Capital Amorçage). This fundraising will support the development namely of two products, HORA-PDE6B and HORA-RLPB1, as well as the reinforcement of Horama’s team.
Christine Placet, formerly Chairman of the Management Board at Trophos, successfully sold to Roche in 2015, recently joined the company as Managing Director and investor. Several recruitments are currently in progress to build at her side a specialized team of experts in drug development.
Created in March 2014, Horama is developing new gene therapies for the treatment of hereditary retinopathies pigmentosa, which are orphan ophthalmological diseases. The company gathers the expertise of internationally renowned scientific experts in the field of ophthalmologic gene therapies. Its ambition is to help slow down visual loss and even improve the visual function by injecting a specific viral vector based on adeno-associated viruses (AAV). Horama’s scientific founding team (Nantes and Montpellier, France) is the first one in France to have completed an ophthalmology gene therapy study in 2011.
“I am grateful to Omnes Capital, Sham Innovation Santé and GO Capital for their trust. This financing round is a recognition of our potential to successfully develop new ophthalmic gene therapies, for tens of thousands of patients without any treatment to date. It will help the company to be appropriately structured to efficiently progress into the clinic of HORA-PDE6B and actively pursue the development of HORA-RLPB1”, comments Denis Cayet, Chairman and founding shareholder of Horama.
“We are delighted to be working with Horama and support the development of treatments addressing ophthalmic rare diseases, with the ambition for Horama to become an undisputed gene therapy leader in this area. This investment confirms our strategy to support outstanding teams and high technology content-driven startups, bringing new therapeutic solutions to patients”, stresses Bruno Montanari, Partner, Omnes Capital.
“We are very proud to support Horama, which has been able to develop a unique portfolio of products, an impressive know how and technology platform within the field of Ocular Gene Therapy”, adds Mounia Chaoui, Partner, Turenne Capital and Representative of Sham Innovation Santé.
“We are very pleased to support Horama in its development. The quality of its science, the team’s expertise and the therapeutic potential of its products are the main assets that have convinced GO Capital, in addition to its regional implantation in Nantes“, concludes Leila Nicolas, Investment Manager, GO Capital.
Horama’s gene therapy platform
The ambition of Horama is to develop treatments based on a vector derived from a recombinant adeno-associated virus (rAAV) which slow down visual loss and even improve the visual function, within the framework of retinal dystrophies.
5.1 million individuals worldwide are suffering from retinal dystrophies, rare genetic pathologies slowly progressing towards blindness. To date, close to 200 genes have been identified as responsible for retinal dystrophies.
Horama develops a diversified portfolio out of its gene therapy platform, with notably two programs benefiting from this Series A: HORA-PDE6B (retinitis pigmentosa), planning to enroll its first patient in Q1 2017, and HORA-RLPB1 (RPA or Retinitis Punctuata Albescens) currently at preclinical stage. Horama’s pipeline also includes HORA-RPE65 (Leber congenital amaurosis), the most advanced program (phase II) and HORA-CHM (choroideremia) which is at a preclinical stage.
The eye is an organ favorable for gene therapy. As an enclosed and easy-to-access organ, it requires very little product to transfer a therapeutic gene. Its injection is easy and has no particular side-effect, namely because there is no significant diffusion in the rest of the organism. The pre-clinical data demonstrated that this transfer is permanent and only requires one administration. Horama’s methodology consists of injecting under the retina a vector derived from a recombinant adeno-associated virus (rAAV), which carries the therapeutic (healthy) gene of interest. This vector guides the latter towards the appropriate retinal cells where the original gene is either mutated or missing, and where the encoded heathy protein will then be expressed.
Horama is a clinical stage biopharma company, which develops gene therapy treatments based on AAV vector for the treatment of rare retinal diseases. The company’s portfolio namely includes a clinical stage product and two products that will enter into clinical stage in the upcoming months. Horama was founded in 2014 in Paris by Denis Cayet, on the initiative of academic researchers, who carried out the first gene therapy trial for ophthalmology in 2011. These founder-researchers of Horama (Philippe Moullier, Christian Hamel and Vasiliki Kalatzis – INSERM, Michel Weber and Guylène Le Meur – Hospital Center of Nantes) do have the complementary and renowned skills on the international scene.
For more information: www.horama.fr
About Omnes Capital
Omnes Capital is a major player in private equity and infrastructure with €2.1 billion in assets under management. Omnes Capital provides companies with the capital needed to finance their growth and with key expertise in a number of areas: Buyout & Growth Capital, Private Debt, Venture Capital in technology and life sciences, Renewable Energy, Co-Investment, Secondary Funds of Funds. Omnes Capital was a subsidiary of Crédit Agricole until March 2012 when the company gained its independence. Omnes Capital is a signatory to the United Nations Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI).
For more information: www.omnescapital.com
About Sham Innovation Santé
Created in May 2014, Sham Innovation Santé is a Venture Capital Fund controlled and held by Sham, a Mutual Insurance Company, specialized in risk management of players in Social and Medico- social. Sham is the first French player in socio medical responsibility. Advised by Turenne Santé (Turenne Capital healthcare franchise), Sham Innovation Santé has the goal to support innovative companies in the healthcare field.
For more information: www.sham.fr / www.turenne-sante.com
About GO Capital
GO Capital is a venture capital firm managing over €120m, investing mainly in high tech companies located in West of France. The Fund “GO Capital Amorçage”, which is invested into HORAMA, has been raised with the support of the French National Seed Fund, managed by Bpifrance investment within the framework of the “Investissements d’Avenir”, the European Investment Fund, French regions (Brittany, Normandy and Pays de la Loire), as well as banks (Crédit Mutuel Arkea and Caisses Régionales du Crédit Agricole). Through its 4 funds under management, GO Capital has 38 companies in its porftolio to date in different area such as Digital, Energy transition and Lifes Sciences.
For more information: www.gocapital.fr
Source : Omnes Capital Press Release