BiPER Therapeutics, a preclinical biotechnology company developing first-in-class drug candidates targeting the binding immunoglobulin protein (BiP), an Hsp70 family chaperone encoded by the HSPA5 gene, to treat gastrointestinal cancers, has raised a total of €1.25 million ($1.35M) in seed funding.[1]

The company received €300k ($322k) in dilutive funds from WiSeed via WiClub Santé 2, €500k ($544k) in convertible bonds from Bpifrance, and €450k ($483k) in grants as part of the i-Lab innovation award and from the Grand Est region.

These funds will allow BiPER to work, over the next 15 months, on the preclinical development of its lead program, BPR001, a first-in-class BiP inhibitor, for the treatment of gastrointestinal cancers, and bring it to the Clinical Trial Application (CTA)/Investigational New Drug (IND) stages, with gastric cancer as the primary indication. It will also enable the company to advance its R&D programs in first-in-class Endoplasmic Reticulum (ER) stress inducers.

With an estimated one million cases worldwide and an annual projected increase of 2%, the gastric cancer market is evolving rapidly. Despite the arrival of immunotherapies as a first line treatment, there is still a high unmet medical need in this indication.

Burning out
BiPER is developing a first-in-class molecule targeting BiP, a key protein involved in cancer cell survival. The therapeutic interest in this target has been validated by several in vivo and in vitro proof of concept studies. [2][3][4]

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BPR001 has already demonstrated efficacy in vivo as a single agent and in combination with chemotherapies and immunotherapies. To eliminate tumors, it pushes the cancer cells to ‘burn out’ by selectively inducing strong and unsolvable stress in tumors.

“Stephane Rocchi, Rachid Benhida, Cyril Ronco and myself have developed a drug candidate that has enormous potential as a new therapeutic solution for those patients resistant to standard treatments, who represent around 50% of gastrointestinal cancer patients,” said Mehdi Chelbi, co-founder and CEO of BiPER Therapeutics.

“I would also like to thank our great team and Zaki Sellam, managing partner at Landmark Bioventure, for their valuable support in the success of this seed round. This funding will bolster our efforts to advance the preclinical development of BPR001 to the CTA/IND stages. In parallel, we have started a Series A funding round to help finance the early clinical phases,” Chelbi added.

Alongside the funding, BiPER welcomes Guillaume Vetter-Genoud, director of Quest for health, to the board.

“With our partners Wiseed, we’re proud to be able to support a promising start-up like BiPER Therapeutics. The identification of new therapeutic agents with an original mode of action is fundamental to circumventing the resistance phenomena in standard-of-care treatment,” Guillaume concluded.

[1] Wang J, Lee J, Liem D, Ping P. HSPA5 Gene encoding Hsp70 chaperone BiP in the endoplasmic reticulum. Gene. 2017 Jun 30;618:14-23. doi: 10.1016/j.gene.2017.03.005. Epub 2017 Mar 7. PMID: 28286085; PMCID: PMC5632570.
[2] Cerezo M, Lehraiki A, Millet A, Rouaud F, Plaisant M, Jaune E, Botton T, Ronco C, Abbe P, Amdouni H, Passeron T, Hofman V, Mograbi B, Dabert-Gay AS, Debayle D, Alcor D, Rabhi N, Annicotte JS, Héliot L, Gonzalez-Pisfil M, Robert C, Moréra S, Vigouroux A, Gual P, Ali MMU, Bertolotto C, Hofman P, Ballotti R, Benhida R, Rocchi S. Compounds Triggering ER Stress Exert Anti-Melanoma Effects and Overcome BRAF Inhibitor Resistance. Cancer Cell. 2016 Jun 13;29(6):805-819. doi: 10.1016/j.ccell.2016.04.013. Epub 2016 May 26. Erratum in: Cancer Cell. 2016 Jul 11;30(1):183. PMID: 27238082.
[3] Millet A, Plaisant M, Ronco C, Cerezo M, Abbe P, Jaune E, Cavazza E, Rocchi S, Benhida R. Discovery and Optimization of N-(4-(3-Aminophenyl)thiazol-2-yl)acetamide as a Novel Scaffold Active against Sensitive and Resistant Cancer Cells. J Med Chem. 2016 Sep 22;59(18):8276-92. doi: 10.1021/acs.jmedchem.6b00547. Epub 2016 Sep 12. PMID: 27575313.
[4] Cerezo M, Rocchi S. New anti-cancer molecules targeting HSPA5/BIP to induce endoplasmic reticulum stress, autophagy and apoptosis. Autophagy. 2017 Jan 2;13(1):216-217. doi: 10.1080/15548627.2016.1246107. Epub 2016 Oct 28. PMID: 27791469; PMCID: PMC5240825.

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