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Calixar invests EUR1m in pipeline of highly druggable membrane protein targets and native antigens

Calixar, a biotechnology company with ten years expertise in the isolation of fully native membrane proteins, is to makes a EUR1 million (USD1.2 million) investment in a new pipeline of complex therapeutic targets and native antigens of high relevance for pharmaceutical companies. 

This strategic investment, supported by Bpifrance investment bank, will enable the company to be the exclusive provider and licensor for pharmaceutical companies, with the best native and functional membrane therapeutic targets (GPCRs, ion channels, transporters, receptors and viral targets). It will also help them to discover the best drugs (small molecules and conformational antibodies) and develop the best vaccines.
Drug development is becoming more costly and uncertain than ever (over USD1 billion – EUR0.9 billion – in 2020, with a 95 per cent failure rate). Only a few of the drugs authorised each year bring real health benefits. This is despite major scientific advances and ever-increasing investment, with over USD150 billion (EUR139 billion) invested annually worldwide (source: EvaluatePharma).  
Calixar was founded in 2011 with the aim of responding to those industry needs. It has developed its own unique technology, together with a research platform, in order to produce high-quality native membrane therapeutic targets that cover all therapeutic areas.

“Collective studies agree that the pharmaceutical industry needs to optimize its drug development model,” says Emmanuel Dejean, founder and CEO of Calixar. “In Calixar’s view, the problems faced in clinical development are related particularly to the unreliability of the therapeutic targets isolated upstream.”

Membrane therapeutic targets (GPCRs, ion channels, transporters, etc) are essential as templates in the development of drug candidates, both in small molecule screening and in the manufacture of therapeutic antibodies, or as antigens in the development of new vaccines. There is therefore a direct link between the quality of a therapeutic target and the reliability of the biodrug obtained downstream. Today, nearly all the available targets are obtained via denaturing purification and stabilisation procedures, resulting in less than robust drug candidates and vaccines. This also partly explains the clinical phase failures and the poor performance of some drugs on the market.

There are several thousand therapeutic targets in humans, yet only a few of these are currently available to the pharmaceutical industry. To address this unmet medical need and industry gap, Calixar developed a technology enabling the development of very reliable native therapeutic targets that were previously unavailable; in order to improve the success rate of clinical studies and to open up new therapeutic pathways.

Calixar validated its technology with numerous clients and partners, from pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies to public and private research institutes. Its platform has been used to isolate over 100 client’s targets involved in a number of diseases, many of which had previously never been subject to native and functional isolation. The recognised quality of Calixar’s therapeutic targets led US biotech company Regeneron to enter into an initial exclusive licensing agreement with Calixar in 2019, for a major target. This agreement confirmed Calixar’s business strategy, which is now based on licensing out therapeutic targets and developing a catalog of molecules with an estimated value of EUR92.6 million (USD100 million) to EUR900 million (USD1 billion).

“We will offer pharma and biotech companies the possibility of saving time and money by entrusting us to develop their future targets,” says Emmanuel Dejean. “Calixar will invest in 15 highly druggable targets and take on the risks for producing them in a ‘ready-for-drug discovery’ format. Upon validation by our partners, they could have access to exclusive rights on the targets for their applications. The Calixar team will build its contacts with the top 100 pharma/biotech companies to license its pipeline and offer its platform expertise.”

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