Kizoo leads $5M seed round at Harvard spin-off CELLVIE in pursuit of a new treatment modality: Therapeutic Mitochondria Transfer (TMT)
Mitochondria are intimately tied to the origin of complex life, the energy of the young and the decline of the old. They are the powerhouses of the cell, generating most of the cellular energy and operate as critical intra-cellular communication nodes. Mitochondria dysfunction has been tied to a host of diseases, ranging from neurodegenerative ailments such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, over heart attacks and strokes, to age-related degeneration.
“But treating mitochondria has proven to be an arduous challenge” said Dr. James McCully, a founder of cellvie and Associate Professor of Surgery at Boston’s Children’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School where he pioneered the therapeutic use of mitochondria. “That is why we turned to introducing healthy, viable mitochondria into cells where these organelles are impaired. To great effect. We can sustainably reinvigorate cells’ failing energy metabolism.”
The potential of Therapeutic Mitochondria Transfer was recently demonstrated in a clinical investigation at Boston Children’s Hospital. Pediatric patients on heart-lung-support after suffering a cardiogenic shock, received the treatment to revitalize their heart muscle. 80% of these children experienced myocardial recovery, which compares to an expected 29%, as reported in a publication forthcoming in The Journal of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery.
“The implications of our findings are groundbreaking. We may have the chance to bring about a new treatment modality,” said Dr. Alexander Schueller, founder and CEO of cellvie. “The investment will enable us to pursue the platform broadly, including a first application in aging, where the need for mitochondria-recovery is particularly dear.”
To date, cellvie focused primarily on ischemia-reperfusion injury (IRI), one of the world’s leading causes of death. IRI manifests itself whenever the blood flow to a part of the body is interrupted and subsequently reintroduced. Well-known medical conditions include heart attacks, strokes, and organ transplantation. cellvie is pursuing an indication in organ transplantation, first, for which the FDA awarded orphan drug designation in 2020. The capital injection will be employed for productization, to expand cellvie’s product pipeline and to prepare an IND submission for a clinical study in kidney transplantation.
“We were immediately attracted to the potential of cellvie’s approach to emerge as a novel category of medicines” said Frank Schueler, Managing Director at Kizoo Technology Capital. “With mitochondria dysfunction a common denominator to disease and aging alike, cellvie’s ability to affect the cell energy metabolism may pave the road to address hitherto intractable human ailments”. Frank Schueler will join the company’s Board of Directors.
About cellvie Inc.
Founded in the US and headquartered close to Zürich, Switzerland, cellvie is developing medicines from cells, leveraging the therapeutic potential of mitochondria. The company was founded by Drs. McCully, Schueller, del Nido and Emani in 2018. Dr. McCully pioneered the approach of mitochondria augmentation and replacement at Harvard Medical School and the team has now set out to bring it about as a new treatment modality in ischemia-reperfusion injury, aging, and beyond.
Further information can be found at www.cellvie.bio.
KIZOO provides mentoring, seed and early-stage financing with a focus on rejuvenation biotech. Having been entrepreneurs, VC, and mentors in both high-growth tech and biotech companies ourselves for many years with multiple exits and massive value created for the founders, Kizoo now brings this experience to the emerging field of rejuvenation biotech. We see it as a young industry that will eventually outgrow today’s largest technology markets.
As part of the Forever Healthy Group, Kizoo directly supports the creation of startups turning research on the root causes of aging into therapies and services for human application. Investments include Cellvie, Underdog, Revel Pharmaceuticals, Elevian, Oisin Biotechnologies, LIfT BioSiences, MAIA Biotechnology, FoxBio, Turn.bio, and others.
Forever Healthy’s other initiatives include the evaluation of new rejuvenation therapies, evidenced- based curation of the world’s cutting-edge medical knowledge, funding research projects on the root causes of aging and hosting the annual Undoing Aging Conference.