Japanese Biotech Raises $37 Million in Series C to Develop Stem Cell Therapy for Heart Failure

by Nicole Bata
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On June 11th, Tokyo-based biotech Heartseed Inc. announced that it raised 4 billion yen (US$37 million) in Series C financing to develop iPSC-derived cardiomyocytes for heart failure.

Heartseed develops cutting-edge iPSC-derived stem cell therapy for the treatment of heart failure. The investment will fund a phase I/II proof-of-concept study for their technology in Japan and a global clinical trial of HS-001 for heart failure, the company said in a statement.

The funding round saw several participants, including UTokyo Innovation Platform Co. (UTokyo IPC), Medical Incubator Japan, Keio Innovation Initiative (KII), Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Investment, SBI Group, Nissay Capital, SMBC Capital, Medipal Holdings, and Itochu Chemical Frontier. This brings Heartseeds total financial backing to 8.2 billion yen (US$75 million).


Cardiovascular Market

Heart failure is a serious condition where the heart cannot pump enough blood and oxygen to support the vital organs in the body. Typically, every other patient with heart failure will die within five years of diagnosis, resulting in around 5.7 million deaths in the US alone. Current therapy options for this chronic disease include a combination of medications, palliative care, surgery, and heart transplant in some cases.

Heartseed was founded and developed by Professor Keiichi Fukuda and his group in 2015 to develop and commercialize cardiac regenerative medicine. Their lead therapeutic, HS-011, is an allogeneic iPSC-derived, highly purified ventricular cardiomyocyte spheroids.

Normal cells taken from donors can be programmed to form Induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC), which can then be programmed to form cardiac cells. With just a small sample from donors, iPSC can be differentiated into spheroids of cardiomyocytes and can be grown on a large scale in the lab. These cells could then be transplanted into patients with severe heart failure, allowing the cardiomyocyte spheroids to grow and improve contraction in the heart.

The global heart failure market size is expected to grow from 17.5 billion dollars in 2020 to 21.5 billion dollars by 2025, with a CAGR of 5.3%. Heartseed aims to lead the market with HS-011, which has the potential to revolutionize regenerative medicine and cure heart failure with Reduced Ejection Fraction.

“Heartseed has made a strong progress in our research and development of our cardiac remuscularization therapy, as proved by the clearance of clinical trial application of Phase I/II LAPiS Study by the Japanese Pharmaceutical and Medical Agency and many awards we received,” said Professor Keiichi Fukuda, Co-Founder, and CEO at Heartseed.

“The commitment from both new and existing investors in this round is a strong validation of our technology and strategic vision. With their support, we look forward to accelerating our development to deliver potentially curative therapy for heart failure across the globe.”

Related Article: With $41.9 Million from Oversubscribed Financing Round, XyloCor Sets Sights on Gene Therapy for Heart Disease


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