Boost for moss-based biologics platform

Published On: April 8th, 2021

Based in Freiburg, Germany, Eleva uses its unique moss-based platform to produce protein biopharmaceutical candidates. The company recently secured up to 60 million euros ($73.7 million) in funding from Zukunftsfonds Heilbronn (ZFHN). The funds will help advance one of its drug candidates, CPV-101, to stages that will facilitate further investment from venture capitalists and/or pharmaceutical companies. Andreas Schaaf, Chief Scientific Officer of Eleva, says: “ZFHN has been a great supporter and long-term strategic partner. Together we are convinced that the unprecedented potential of our platform will deliver tomorrow’s therapeutics.” 

Previously known as greenovation Biotech, Eleva is a specialty biopharmaceutical company that develops stable moss lines for cGMP-compliant manufacturing of protein biopharmaceutical candidates. Mr. Schaaf explains that in biologics, Chinese hamster Ovary (CHO) cells currently are the most common cell line used for mass production of therapeutic proteins, for immunotherapy in oncology notably. But while the use of CHO cells is well established, it does have its limitations because they are derived from animals, in other words could potentially bear human pathogens. Plant cells by contrast are free of such pathogens, and are clean, efficient, and safe to produce in a bioreactor. “Plant cells are less demanding in terms of growing conditions and media composition than mammalian cells are. All a plant needs are water, light, and a bit of salt,” says Mr. Schaaf. He acknowledges that there are a number of companies that develop plant-based therapies but emphasises that Eleva is uniquely positioned: “We cultivate moss plants in standard CHO bioreactors in a process similar to how mammalian cells are cultivated. Nobody else does that.” 

Eleva will use the recently secured funds from ZFHN to advance the lead candidate in their pipeline, CPV-101, a potentially game-changing complement regulator. “The complement system, also known as complement cascade, is a part of the immune system that enhances (complements) the ability of antibodies and phagocytic cells to clear microbes and damaged cells from an organism, promote inflammation, and attack the pathogen’s cell membrane,” Mr. Schaaf explains. “It’s very effective in a healthy human, but if someone has disorders in the immune system, it will react without a cause and can cause very severe diseases such as blood clotting. There’s only one product approved to treat this, Soliris, which was developed by Alexion, a company that was recently acquired by AstraZeneca, which confirms how relevant the product is. There is a clear need for an alternative, natural regulator, which we aim to provide.” 

Eleva is currently in the process of finalising the production process and planning clinical trials. The company does not intend to take the product all the way to the commercialisation stage, however. “We are talking to potential partners and licensees and are happy to discuss any partnership,” says Mr. Schaaf. “Nothing of what we’re doing is easy but we do have very promising data and now with this funding, we feel we are on track.”