Synthelis raises €610,000 to develop manufacturing services for membrane proteins
6 February 2014
Synthelis, a company specializing in the production and characterization of therapeutic targets and antigens, has secured initial backing of €610,000 from a group of French investors comprising Rhone-Alpes Creation, Alpes Developpement Durable Investissement (A2D-Invest), Sud Rhone-Alpes Capital, Viaduc and the Savoy and Grenoble Business Angels networks.
The aim of this initial round of funding is to speed up the development of toll manufacturing services for membrane proteins for use by R&D departments in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries. The funding also gives the company scope to consolidate and expand its functional and structural characterization services.
“This investment is an important step for Synthelis, allowing us to strengthen our team of scientists and invest in essential new equipment to optimize production and enhance our services,” explains Bruno Tillier, CEO of Synthelis. “Synthelis can now accelerate its commercial development, both in France and internationally.”
Founded in 2011 by Bruno Tillier to build on Professor Jean-Luc Lenormand's work at the TIMC-TheREx laboratory, part of the Universite Joseph Fourier in Grenoble, France, Synthelis develops and leverages an innovative patented technology for the acellular production of membrane proteins in the presence of liposomes. The technology preserves the structure and the natural properties of these molecules, along with their ‘transportability’. This removes a major technological stumbling block in bio-production: previously, faithful reproductions of natural membrane proteins were difficult to manufacture in sufficient quantities.
Membrane proteins account for 60% of current therapeutic targets. These membrane proteins (so called because they are embedded in the membrane which separates the cell's internal and external environments) play a role in ensuring that the cell – and therefore the organism as a whole – functions properly.
Membrane protein abnormalities are also implicated in many diseases such as cancers, neuro-degenerative diseases and metabolic, genetic, immune and inflammatory disorders. In 2012, the market in which Synthelis currently operates — R&D services for the pharmaceutical industry — was valued at EUR 20 billion, with an annual growth rate of 13 per cent (source: Equity Research).
“We are pleased to be contributing to the development plans of what is a very promising young company. This is a classic case of a start-up founded on a technology coming out of a university laboratory needing financial support to make its mark as a leader in its field. The role of regional funds such as Rhone Alpes Creation and the Business Angels is to help innovative businesses like Synthelis,” adds Gwenael Hamon, senior business manager at Rhone Alpes Creation.
In two years, Synthelis has produced over 50 membrane proteins as part of more than 20 projects undertaken in conjunction with internationally-renowned pharmaceutical organizations. The success rate for protein expression across all the work undertaken by Synthelis to date is in excess of 90 per cent.
The company says that once the initial commercial objectives have been achieved, new investment is planned in order to industrialize Synthelis’ acellular procedure and consolidate its leading position in this market. The funding will open up the market for contract manufacturing services, complementing and ensuring continuity with the existing contract research offering.