Step Pharma climbs $17m series A

The biopharmaceuticals developer is developing therapies for autoimmune diseases and will use the Bpifrance-backed series A round to pursue clinical testing.

France-based biopharmaceuticals developer Step Pharma closed a €14.5m ($17m) series A round yesterday following a $10m extension backed by state-owned investment bank Bpifrance and led by VC firm Kurma Partners.

Inserm Transfert Initiative, a fund established by the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research (Inserm)’s commercialisation arm Inserm Transfert, also contributed cash, as did research institute Imagine Institute and drug discovery company Sygnature Discovery.

Pontifax Venture Capital and Idinvest Partners were also among the investors in the series A extension. Bpifrance, Inserm Transfer Initiative, Imagine Institute, Sygnature Discovery Kurma and Idinvest had provided the initial $7m tranche in June 2016.

Bpifrance participated through the Fonds Biothérapies Innovantes et Maladies Rares, a vehicle aimed at discovering therapies for rare diseases that is also backed by AFM-Téléthon, a charity focused on rare and neuromuscular diseases.

Founded in 2014, Step Pharma is working on treatments for autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis. Its approach aims to tackle the deficiency of CTPS1, an enzyme that is essential to the proper functioning of the human immune system.

The company, co-founded by Imagine Institute, Sygnature Discovery and Kurma Partners, is exploiting research conducted at Inserm by Sylvain Latour and Alain Fischer.

The cash will help Step Pharma advance its drug candidates to the clinical trial stage, following the development of an assay platform and an initial proof of concept in living cells.

Bpifrance and Inserm Transfert Initiative previously contributed to a $2.8m seed round, raised over multiple tranches between July 2014 and June 2015. That round also featured Imagine Institute, Sygnature Discovery, Idinvest and Kurma Partners.

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