16th August 2021
EIT Health Gold Track start-up Minovia Therapeutics has announced a worldwide strategic collaboration with leading pharmaceutical company Astellas. Together the organisations aim to research, develop and commercialise a range of novel cell therapy programmes for diseases caused by mitochondrial dysfunction.
Mitochondrial dysfunction occurs when mitochondria, which are present in nearly every cell in the body, are unable to effectively produce energy. 1 The range of symptoms for people suffering with mitochondrial dysfunction is extremely diverse, and can include seizures, gastrointestinal symptoms and diabetes.2 Despite the immense impact this can have on people´s lives, there is currently only one European Medicines Agency approved drug available for mitochondrial dysfunction with many patients left without an effective treatment. 1,3
Minovia is committed to finding a therapy for patients. The start-up utilises mitochondrial transfer to deliver healthy mitochondria to a patient’s diseased cells. It does this by using a unique technology platform called Mitochondrial Augmentation Therapy (MAT), where the patient’s own cells are isolated, loaded with healthy mitochondria obtained from a healthy donor, and then re-infused back into the patient.
The partnership with Astellas will be pivotal in extending Minovia´s platform of research. Through their allogeneic cell therapy programmes, Astellas will provide proprietary engineered stem cells 4 that could be applied from one donor to any individual, therefore helping to treat patients without the need to match donors. Combining this with Minovia´s Mitochondrial Augmentation Therapy platform technology will mean the two companies can jointly accelerate the development of therapies for diseases caused by mitochondrial dysfunction.
“We are excited and honoured to collaborate with Astellas,” stated Minovia’s Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer, Natalie Yivgi-Ohana, Ph.D. “We share with Astellas both their passion for mitochondrial science and their commitment to patients in need of new therapies. As Minovia continues the development of Mitochondrial Augmentation Therapy, we believe this partnership is critical to accelerate the development of off-the-shelf, allogeneic cell therapy programmes for the many patients living with mitochondrial diseases caused by mitochondrial dysfunction.”
Naoki Okamura, Representative Director, Corporate Executive Vice President, Chief Strategy Officer and Chief Financial Officer, at Astellas said, “We, at Astellas, have positioned mitochondrial biology as one of the Primary Focuses of our research and development strategy to develop therapies for patients with unmet medical needs…Minovia is pioneering mitochondrial cell therapy and has unique technologies for enhancing delivery of healthy mitochondria to the patients’ cells. This strategic collaboration with Minovia will accelerate and expand our pipeline of treatment options for patients with diseases with underlying mitochondrial dysfunction.”
Under the new agreement, Minovia receives an upfront payment of $20m USD (approximately, €17m). If Astellas develops and commercialises product candidates for diseases caused by mitochondrial dysfunction through the new research programme, the start-up is also eligible to receive up to $420M USD (€356m) per product to help aid future development, regulatory and commercial milestone payments.
EIT Health congratulates Minovia on the new partnership and is delighted to be supporting them this year. In February, EIT Health selected the start-up to receive individualised and tailored mentoring by leading industry players as part of the EIT Health Gold Track programme. EIT Health saw great potential in Minovia to significantly scale their innovation and is since helping them to achieve their business goals against an accelerated timeline.
Yivgi-Ohana states, “EIT Health has been fundamental in helping us re-structure our company in the last year. The organisation has exposed us to so many key opinion leaders in the field of both stem cells and mitochondria. They brought them on board for scientific discussions that really helped us to advance a new clinical development plan for Minovia and we are grateful for that.”
Find out more about Gold Track here.
NHS “What is Mitochondrial Disease.” Available at https://mitochondrialdisease.nhs.uk/patient-area/what-mitochondrial-disease/ (2021) Accessed August 2021
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, “Mitochondrial Myopathy Fact Sheet.” Available at https://www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/Patient-Caregiver-Education/Fact-Sheets/Mitochondrial-Myopathy-Fact-Sheet (2021) Accessed August 2021
European Medicines Agency, “EU/3/07/434: idebenone.” Available at https://www.ema.europa.eu/en/medicines/human/orphan-designations/eu307434 Accessed August 2021
Astellas R&D Meeting (December 10, 2020). Available at: https://sw4503.swcms.net/ja/ir-library/ir-meetings/inframe/main/014/teaserItems1/07/linkList/0/link/RDmeeting2020_pre_jp.pdf