Desentum, a company developing novel allergen immunotherapy – aka allergy vaccine – secured funding to advance their treatment targeting birch pollen allergy.
ESPOO, Finland, 23 January 2017– Today, Desentum, a biopharmaceutical company developing next generation immunotherapy to fight allergies, announced that it has completed a Series A financing round totalling approximately EUR 2 Million. The participating investors include Belgian Cascara Ventures, Luxembourgian ACME Investments, Finnish VTT Ventures and Sto-Rahoitus, and the founding shareholders.
Desentum will use most of the raised capital to produce the most prominent birch pollen hypoallergen under GMP conditions and to prepare for preclinical and clinical trials. The company will also focus on advancing the preclinical research of other respiratory allergens (pollens, animal dander) and developing them into vaccines, as well as securing key intellectual property.
"For the past ten years, the research groups of VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, University of Eastern Finland and Desentum have collaborated to develop a completely new type of immunotherapy for treating patients suffering from allergies. The therapy is based on using DNA techniques to modify known allergens into so called hypoallergens. The hypoallergens are expected to initiate immunological mechanisms that will protect from allergy. This model has shown excellent results in laboratory tests. If the hypoallergens prove functional in clinical trials as well, we will have a real opportunity to shorten the time needed for allergen immunotherapy and improve the safety of the treatment. The capital raised now will help Desentum to move forward towards first stage clinical trials", says Pekka Mattila, CEO of Desentum.
Immunotherapy in allergy treatment
Allergy is a disorder of the immune system where a normally harmless environmental substance – such as food, pollen or animal dander – causes an allergic reaction. In Europe, 150 million people already suffer from allergies and the number is increasing rapidly. Allergies cause social and economic burden such as health care costs, missed school and work days and impact on the daily lives of the patients.
Allergies are generally managed by medication that alleviates the symptoms. The most common medications are antihistamines and corticosteroids. Immunotherapy is the only treatment currently known that affects the mechanism of allergy. It re-educates the immune system to tolerate the allergen, decreasing the need for medication. Immunotherapy can be administered as injections or sublingual tablets or drops, and the treatment usually takes a few years. The novel immunotherapeutic products that are under development aim for speeding up the treatment as well as improving the safety, efficacy and convenience.
About Desentum Ltd: Desentum is a biopharmaceutical company based in Espoo, Finland. It is specialized in developing a novel type of allergen immunotherapy based on switching the immune system's response to allergens from hypersensitivity to tolerance by utilizing modified hypoallergens. Desentum, founded in 2011, is a spin-off company from VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd. In 2013 VTT received an EARTO Innovation Prize for the work behind the immunotherapeutic products.