21st October 2022
In 2019, chronic liver disease was the cause of over 297,000 deaths in Europe, accounting for 3% of all deaths in the region. Liver stress is at the heart of several cardiometabolic diseases, and can increase risk of heart attack, stroke and diabetes. Due to a shortage of therapy options for patients, many resort to a liver transplant. Demand outstrips supply of healthy donor organs, with many donor livers in transplant centres being too fatty for use.
Ochre Bio, co-founded by Jack O’Meara and Quin Wills in 2019, is working to improve the viability of donor livers. Their solution reprogrammes the liver and tests RNA therapies on those that are discarded due to fatty liver disease. Donor livers can be kept alive outside the body for multiple days which means Ochre Bio can conduct extensive testing in the search for a wider set of treatments.
“The prevalence of chronic liver disease is on the rise amongst patients in Europe driven by factors like obesity and diabetes. Start-ups such as Ochre Bio, that are developing game-changing solutions to solve rising unmet clinical needs, are perfect candidates to join EIT Health’s Gold Track programme. At EIT Health we recognised the remarkable innovation behind Ochre’s idea and are proud to have joined the investment syndicate in this Series A round through our Grant for Options model,” said Christina Hertel, Head of Asset Management at EIT Health’s Invest Health and Programme Director for Gold Track.
“We congratulate Jack and the team for moving at an incredible pace on their growth journey, accelerated by their work with EIT Health’s Gold Track programme. We also celebrate that Khosla Ventures has stood up to fund an EIT-alumni company for the third time in 24 months,” said Marc Butterly, Business Creation Lead at EIT Health Ireland-UK.
“Chronic liver disease is now the third leading cause of premature death in much of the developed world. At Ochre Bio we aim to use transplant research as a way to way to de-risk and develop therapies that will treat those affected,” said Jack O’Meara, Co-Founder and CEO at Ochre Bio.
“Participating in EIT Health’s Gold Track programme gave us direct access to industry leaders who could advise and open doors for us. The people involved in Gold Track are top drawer and we have remained in touch with many of them until today. The Series A investment, with EIT Health as part of the investor syndicate, will enable us to further the development of promising therapies for liver diseases, one of the most important and underserved public health challenges of our time.”
Investors in the round included Khosla Ventures, Hermes-Epitek, Backed VC, and LifeForce Capital. Funds raised from Series A will be used to support pre-clinical testing and inform which therapies will be progressed to clinical development stage. Ochre Bio also plans to expand its drug discovery and development platforms to advance research into liver disease.
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Karlsen, T.H. et al. (2022) “The EASL–Lancet Liver Commission: Protecting the next generation of Europeans against liver disease complications and premature mortality,” The Lancet, 399(10319), pp. 61–116. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1016/s0140-6736(21)01701-3.