German VC Wellington Partners is the leader in a €18.2m financing round for France-based HPV vaccine developer Genticel. The firm invested €4m in the round, with the remainder coming from existing shareholders including EdRIP and InnoBio. This is the first investment from a brand new fund: Wellington Partners IV Life Science Fund.
HPV can – in serious cases – lead to cervical cancer in women. While research has shown that at any given time 42.5 per cent of women have genital HPV infections, the majority of infections disappear on their own after one or two years.
The most dangerous strains are HPV 16 and 18, which are the cause of 70 per cent of all cervical cancers. According to Wellington Partners, while a preventative vaccine against these strains was introduced in 2006, there is still no effective treatment against established infections of high-risk HPV types.
Genticel is now trialing a vaccine called ProCervix that can treat established infections before they lead to high-grade cervical lesions or cancer.
Dr. Rainer Strohmenger, general partner at Wellington Partners, said in a statement: “We are highly excited about Genticel’s lead project ProCervix, which has demonstrated in the phase I clinical trial that it can cure infections with high-risk HPV types 16 and 18 in three out of four treated patients, thus effectively preventing progression to high-grade cervical disease.”
Strohmenger will join Genticel’s supervisory board. This is far from the first Wellington Partners investment in a health science company – past investments include Sapiens, Immatics and Sensimed. The VC firm is based in Munich, London and Zurich and has more than €800m under management, which it tends to invest in European digital or health science companies.
Image credit: Flickr user Alex E. Proimos
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