News 01.20

Fabentech raises 8.5 million euros to accelerate the development and marketing of its passive immunotherapy treatments


Fabentech, a Lyon-based biopharmaceutical company created in 2009 and specialised in immunotherapy for emergency situations, completes a new round of fundraising of 8.5 million euros led by Definvest, the fund of the Armed forces ministry managed by Bpifrance, with the participation of the Institut Mérieux and of its historical investors, Elaia, Sigma Gestion and Kreaxi – private investors – and its founder, Bertrand Lépine.

With these raised funds, Fabentech has the necessary means to develop and produce treatments which will open the door to new niche markets for which its technology is particularly well suited. The company has notably obtained scientific proof-of-efficacy results which are encouraging for the development of a biodefense antidote developed with the support of the General Directorate of Armaments (DGA) and expected to be launched on the market soon.

Florence Parly, Armed forces minister, welcomes this new round of fundraising: “Fabentech, whose works fall within the field of military as well as civilian applications, thus joins our ecosystem. Our armed forces have a mission: to protect the French people. By choosing to support Fabentech, they are engaging in this mission fully thanks to an SME whose unique expertise is in line with our requirement for national sovereignty in matters of combatting bioterrorism risks. “

A new boost for a tried and tested technology

Fabentech has expertise in the immunisation of horses using antigens of interest to produce polyclonal antibodies. These are then purified and subjected to enzymatic digestion to produce fragments of antibodies, known as F(ab’)2. Stripped of their Fc portion, the antibody fragments retain their neutralising properties, diffuse faster and are very well tolerated. Polyclonal products can target different parts of the antigen of interest, unlike monoclonal antibodies which are specific to a single portion. They therefore have wider tolerance to any antigen modifications, e.g., after a mutation.

This passive immunotherapy technology originates from a process initially developed by Sanofi-Pasteur and licensed to Fabentech in 2011. It can recognise a virus or toxin and target it to specifically neutralise it, avoiding a fatal outcome for the patient. The efficacy and safety of this approach have been extensively demonstrated by Fab’entech.

Bpifrance already supports Fabentech in the development of products against emerging viruses through the ISI EMERIT project for which the company has received a 7 million euro aid in 2012.

Fundraising to equip the company with industrial manufacturing capabilities and develop a complete range of products

Thanks to this new round, Fabentech will equip itself with industrial capabilities, in Lyon, for the production and marketing of clinical and commercial GMP batches and these will be operational from 2020.

Based on this highly polyvalent technological platform, Fabentech will continue to develop a range of products in the fields of anti-infectives and emergency medicine.

“This fundraiser is a wonderful opportunity for Fab’entech to enter a new phase of its industrial development. It is also a source of great pride to be welcoming by our side such prestigious partners as Definvest managed by Bpifrance and the Institut Mérieux who will bring us all of their expertise and support. This fundraiser is also an opportunity to warmly thank our historical investors who, through their unfailing support, have enabled the growth of the company and continue in this way to demonstrate their confidence in the team and in the future of Fabentech. These backings further strengthen our imperative for success which is ever present at the heart of the Fab’entech teams whom I would like to thank for their commitment. We are now on track to build together a future European leader able to meet the public health challenges of tomorrow,” explains Bertrand Lépine, the founder-director of Fab’entech.

Paul-François Fournier, Executive director in charge of innovation at Bpifrance, states: “We are delighted to deepen our relationship with Fabentech, a company that we have been supporting for a long time through our innovation funding programmes. We are convinced that it now has the means to reach a new stage in their growth and begin its transformation into a true industrial and commercial company. Fabentech’s production expertise enables it to aim for a European leadership position in passive immunotherapy treatments. “

“Institut Mérieux is proud to be supporting Fabentech through this fundraiser, alongside Definvest managed by Bpifrance and historical shareholders. We enter at a time when the company begins a new phase,” said Hedi Ben Brahim, operational director of the immunotherapy division of the Institut Mérieux.

“As part of its technological watch activity in the field of protection against the evolving biological threat, the DGA identified in 2014 Fab’entech’s technology which allows the development of polyclonal serums at limited cost and within limited timelines. From 2016 to 2019, we supported the rise in maturity of this dual technology presenting possible applications for the protection of service personnel as well as benefits for civilian markets. In view of the very encouraging results obtained, we are continuing our collaboration with Fabentech with the aim of being able to industrialise their serum manufacturing process,” stated François Mestre, head of the industrial affairs and economic intelligence within the General Directorate of Armaments (DGA) of the armed forces ministry.

The law firms Degroux Brugère and Jacubowicz Mallet- Guy and associates supported and advised the parties during this operation.