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The biotechnology firm Leukos Biotech, a spin-off of the Josep Carreras Research Institute (IJC), has just closed a first round of funding worth 3.5 million euros led by the venture capital management firm Inveready. Leukos Biotech, which has already financed its early stage development thanks to the Josep Carreras Leukemia Foundation, will use the capital injection to begin phase II of a clinical trial for a new class of drugs to treat acute myeloid leukemia.

Following this investment, Inveready is now one of the key shareholders, together with the IJC and the Josep Carreras Foundation. Also part of the firm’s investment capital are Dr. Ruth Muñoz Risueño and Dr. Enrique Llaudet, partner and current CEO, recently incorporated after meeting with Leukos Biotech during the event Health & Bio Team Dating organized by Banco Sabadell, Biocat and CataloniaBio.

With its headquarters in Barcelona, Leukos Biotech was created in October 2015 following the discoveries made by Dr. Ruth Muñoz Risueño, a worldwide expert in leukemia and stem cells and a researcher at the IJC. She is also the current scientific director of Leukos Biotech. The treatment developed by the firm is centered around a new therapeutic target that selectively destroys leukemic stem cells.

This discovery open the door to a new therapeutic strategy for treating cancer recurrence. Since it was originally a treatment planned for Parkinson’s, the second application of the candidate will directly begin phase II of the clinical trial with patients defined as “unfit”, that is, those aged over 60 whose state of health does not allow them to undergo a bone marrow transplant or aggressive chemotherapy.

A bone marrow transplant may work in younger patients, but for patients considered unfit –who represent 40% of all patients with acute myeloid leukemia– there are no real alternatives. In addition to this line of research, Leukos Biotech will also develop drug candidates aimed at treating recurrence in other types of cancer caused by stem cells.

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