Calluna Pharma launches and announces EUR 75 million Series A financing to develop novel therapies for inflammatory and fibrotic diseases
• Clinical stage company formed from the merger of Oxitope Pharma and Arxx Therapeutics
• Calluna Pharma has a pipeline of selective antibodies targeting immunological diseases
• New company to complete multiple clinical proofs-of-concept, across programs
• Series A led by Forbion, with participation from Norwegian investors Sarsia, p53, and Investinor
Naarden, The Netherlands, and Oslo, Norway, 23 January 2024: Oxitope Pharma (Oxitope) and Arxx Therapeutics (Arxx), companies with a shared goal of leveraging the innate immune system to discover and develop disease modulating therapies, today announced their merger to form Calluna Pharma Inc. (Calluna). Calluna has raised EUR 75 million in a series A financing and is backed by Oxitope and Arxx’s existing lead investors, Forbion, Sarsia, p53, and Investinor. The new company will combine expertise in the field of innate immunity, based on damage-associated molecular patterns (DAMPs), with a pipeline of selective antibodies that target inflammatory and fibrotic indications, including several first-in-class clinical candidates.
Calluna is developing novel therapies that harness the transformative potential of the body's immune system. The Company’s unique approach involves precision targeting of upstream innate immune amplifiers, enabling disruption of a comprehensive range of disease-associated downstream signaling pathways while maintaining a favorable safety profile. As a result, Calluna has developed a robust pipeline of selective antibodies, targeting immunological diseases. These include novel therapeutic candidates that fulfil unmet clinical needs across a spectrum of diseases, driven by acute or chronic inflammation and non-resolving tissue fibrosis.
Calluna has four promising therapies in its pipeline. Its clinical stage lead program, CAL101, is a monoclonal antibody that neutralizes the bioactivity of S100A4, a DAMP protein implicated in serious and life-threatening diseases such as idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, chronic kidney disease, systemic sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, and severe (steroid insensitive) asthma. Of particular interest is another of its programs, CAL102, a monoclonal antibody neutralizing oxidized phospholipids – these play a significant role in onset and progression of a wide range of acute and chronic inflammatory and fibrotic diseases. CAL102 demonstrated efficacy in several preclinical disease models.
John Montana, PhD., Chief Executive Officer of Calluna Pharma, commented: “In joining forces, these two key players in the innate immunology space have created an exciting new clinical company that has four promising therapies in its pipeline with excellent preclinical proof-of-concept data. By innovating beyond traditional treatment strategies, Calluna offers clinical candidates with superior efficacy, improved patient tolerance, and minimal adverse side effects which have real potential to redefine patient outcomes.”
Antoine Boulanger, PhD., Principal at Forbion, added: “The merger of Oxitope Pharma and Arxx Therapeutics to create Calluna Pharma is a prime example of our Forbion Ventures Fund’s strategy where we both build new and enable existing companies. As a result, we recognized the strength of combining these two companies’ pioneering approaches to disrupt the treatment of inflammatory and fibrotic diseases, the complementarity of management skills, and the resulting robust clinical pipeline. We look forward to continuing our support of potentially life changing clinical assets moving into the next phases of clinical development.”
Sveinung Hole, MBA, Managing Partner at Sarsia (ex-Chair at Arxx Therapeutics) and Susanne Stuffers MD, PhD, Managing Partner at p53, commented: “Sarsia and p53 strive to bring cutting edge ideas and therapies from early-phase to clinical development and beyond to benefit patients and transform people’s lives. Calluna Pharma epitomizes this, and we are enthusiastic to join forces with Forbion and to contribute to the success of this new entity.”
The company’s board of directors will include John Montana, Operating Partner (Forbion), as Chief Executive Officer, Antoine Boulanger, Principal (Forbion), Susanne Stuffers (p53), Farzad Abdi-Dezfuli General Partner (Sarsia), and Marco Boorsma, General Partner (Forbion) as Chairman. The Company is raising further financing to develop its pipeline to multiple key clinical milestones over the next 2.5 years.