Neurotech raises Euro 35 million in France's largest biotech private funding this year Paris

Neurotech S.A., a specialist in the discovery, development and commercialization of cell-based therapies in the eye and the central nervous system (CNS), announces today that it has raised Euro 35 million in a pre-IPO funding round. The additional funds will allow Neurotech to progress several key projects towards clinical trials.

Joint lead investors in this round of funding were Apax Partners and Merlin Biosciences. Other new investors are Westdeutsche Landesbank Girozentrale, ABN Amro, Rothschild, and AGF Innovation. Existing investors (3i Plc, GIMV, Atlas Ventures, CDC Innovation, Sofinnova, Sudinnova, Banque de Vizille, Banexi, Private Equity Holdings and IMH) also participated.

"To achieve this level of funding in the current climate is a clear endorsement of Neurotech's technology and business strategy," said Dr Tom Shepherd, CEO of Neurotech. "It illustrates an increasing trend for European companies to raise more significant amounts of capital as they move into clinical trials instead of relying on drip-feed financing. We are delighted to have the support of such a range of quality investors in the biopharmaceutical field."

The eye and central nervous system have large areas of unmet medical need. This is due not only to the complexity of the diseases, but also to the presence of the blood-eye and blood-brain barriers, which limit local access of orally or systemically applied molecules. Medicaments can be injected directly into the brain or eye, but this is an impractical approach if regular administration is required. It is primarily for this reason that protein therapeutics have never been developed in the eye. Cell therapy, either encapsulated or naked, allows the continuous local production and release of therapeutic molecules from living cells following a single administration. In addition the eye is an optimal site for cell therapy because it is easily accessible, can be visualised directly, and consists of a localised space with a small internal volume.

Neurotech's core technology uses genetically modified eye and CNS derived cell lines, either encapsulated as a means of locally delivering proteins over long periods of time, or as a cell therapy to replace damaged cells. The company has a strong portfolio of cell-based therapies in development to treat CNS and eye diseases. Neurotech's research success has been built up on solid collaborations and alliances with leading academic institutions such as the Institute of Ophthalmology in London, the Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore, and the Foundation Fighting Blindness.

The company has recently successfully concluded pre-clinical trials in the field of Retinitis Pigmentosa and Age-related Macular Degeneration. The Euro 35 million will allow Neurotech to complete a number of agreements to bring new technologies into the company and to commence additional clinical trials in three main areas:

Retinitis Pigmentosa
Age-related Macular Degeneration, the main cause of blindness in adults
neovascular diseases of the eye
"Neurotech has a highly innovative and competitive approach to addressing neurological and ophthalmic disorders, which form a large market of unmet medical need," said Mark Clement, Managing Director of Merlin Biosciences' European Activities, who will be joining the Neurotech board. "The company has an excellent blend of research and development expertise based both in Evry, France, and Rhode Island, US, together with strong product offering. In particular the company's proprietary encapsulated cell technology (ECT), constitutes one of the few competitive solutions to eye diseases and offers a delivery mechanism for broader CNS disorders. Furthermore, the management team under Tom Shepherd has the proven business and product development experience to make Neurotech a world leader in its field."

"Neurotech, which I have been watching since its start up, has made highly significant progress, especially when it acquired the encapsulated cell technology (ECT), and when it broadened its focus to eye diseases, where there are clearly unsatisfied needs and huge market potential," said Dr Laurent Ganem, General Partner of Apax Partners, who will become a board member of Neurotech. "With this substantial financing, we are very pleased to support Tom and his team in the further development of the company."

Media/analyst contacts:

Andrew Lloyd & Associates Andrew Lloyd - +44-1273 675100 -

Neurotech: Dr Tom Shepherd - +33-1 60 87 89 13

(1) including Altamir & Cie, listed on Nouveau Marché. Founded and managed by Apax Partners & Cie, Altamir aims to co-invest and divest under the same conditions on a pari passu basis, in each company selected by Apax Partners & Cie private equity funds.

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