Cleara Biotech closes $2.5m seed financing to advance senotherapeutics

Company set to accelerate FOXO4-therapeutics pipeline for niche-directed, anti-senescent lead candidates.

Cleara Biotech, a preclinical-stage biotech focused on developing innovative, proprietary therapies for treating different pathologies of “scarred cellular” senescence, including late-stage cancer and chronic diseases, has announced that it closed a $2.5 million seed financing round earlier in the year, led by Apollo Health Ventures, with participation from Curie Capital BV, ROM Utrecht Region and Longevity Tech Fund.

The proceeds will be used to progress Cleara’s compounds toward clinical development and further build the Utrecht-based biotech’s developmental pipeline and management team.

Longevity.Technology: Cleara has optimised two lead developmental candidates, CL04177 and CL04183, that can eliminate scarred cancer cells found in several late-stage cancers and chronic diseases in humans. The company is aiming to develop precision medicine tools that treat specific diseases with clear niche-directed, anti-senescent lead candidates, accompanied with associated biomarkers, around its FOXO4-based D-amino acid peptides and pipeline against subtypes of senescence.

As senescent cells impair tissue function, identifying how these cells avoid apoptosis allows for the prospective design of anti-senescence compounds and will be critical to address whether homeostasis can be restored. Cleara scientists identified FOXO4 as having the potential to sequester active, phosphorylated p53, preventing nuclear translocation and induction of apoptosis in scarred senescent and cancer cells.

Senescent/scarred cells, as well as a range of chemo-resistant and/or metastatic cancers, share features and unique biomarkers that Cleara has identified, making them highly selective targets for CL04177/CL04183.

Designed and optimised based on an extensive 3D-structural, molecular and cellular understanding of cell scarring’s mechanism of action and how FOXO4 restrains this particular form of the cell guardian p53, both lead compounds potently counter viability of scarred cancer cells in 2D culture and 3D organoids, as well as strongly reduce the metastatic burden and infiltration in mouse in vivo models for metastatic colon cancer and triple-negative breast cancer. Furthermore, they show favorable pharmacokinetics and tissue distribution in mice, with an MTD that is well above their efficacious dose.

“As Cleara’s vision is to develop novel, highly innovative approaches to combat life-threatening diseases, we look forward to further building the Company’s pipeline and advancing our preclinical studies,” said Dr Peter de Keizer, Managing Director and Scientific Founder, Cleara Biotech [1].

Cleara also announced it has appointed Dr Angelos Stergiou, New York-based SELLAS Life Sciences’ President and Chief Executive Officer, as its Board of Directors Chairman. Dr Stergiou is a preeminent leader in the biotechnology industry with more than 20 years of experience in immuno-oncology, drug development and health economics, as well as deep expertise in finance and corporate governance.

READ MORE: Cleara Biotech – on a mission to target cellular senescence to extend human healthspan at old age

Speaking of the appointment, de Keizer said: “Dr Stergiou’s deep expertise in cancer drug development and impressive track record of building companies will be invaluable to us as we scale our preclinical and regulatory efforts in the US and EU to enter the clinic by 2024 [1].”

Dr Stergiou said: “Cleara’s novel FOXO4-based treatment approach, which harnesses the unique attributes of utilizing biomarkers and ability to eliminate biomarker-positive scarred cells, specific subsets of senescence, has the potential to be a disruptive treatment paradigm for many high-unmet-need cancer patient populations.

“I look forward to working with the Board and management team as the Company continues to grow at such a pivotal time [1].”

Dr Marianne Mertens, Partner at Apollo Health Ventures, Cleara’s founding venture capital group and lead investor, added: “As we have worked closely with Cleara since its inception, playing a key role in the Company’s founding, Apollo Health Ventures has been extremely impressed with the progress achieved to date. We believe that the FOXO4-based approach, including the utilization of biomarkers, has great promise to develop safe and efficacious drugs in several diseases.

“We also look forward to benefiting from Dr. Stergiou’s biotech finance and operations knowledge, which will have an immediate and beneficial impact on our strategy to bring first- and/or best-in-class cancer drugs to patients [1].”

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[1] https://www.clearabiotech.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/09/Cleara_PressRelease_Sep272022.pdf

Photograph: Cleara Biotech

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