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EPFL Spin-off Cellestia Biotech raises CHF 8 million in seed financing

Cellestia Biotech, an EPFL spin-off, can now carry out clinical trials on its new cancer treatment after raising CHF 8 million in seed money. The treatment has shown excellent efficacy in laboratory tests, and the company has filed several patents.

Cellestia Biotech will use the proceeds of its CHF 8 million fundraising round to perform clinical trials on its new cancer drug. The EPFL spin-off has developed an oral treatment for cancers related to a specific kind of genetic lesion, including various types of leukemia and lymphoma, and solid tumors.

In healthy bodies, the NOTCH gene affects the proliferation and differentiation of stem cells in many different kinds of human tissue. It helps make sure that the cells and tissue develop normally. But some genetic lesions interfere with the activation of this process, opening the door to certain types of cancers. The CB-103 molecule developed by Cellestia Biotech inhibits the NOTCH gene’s signaling process, thereby preventing the proliferation of tumorous cells.

The start-up was spun off from Freddy Radtke’s laboratory at EPFL. Both in-vitro and in-vivo preclinical trials carried out on the molecule in 2016 showed excellent efficacy. Patents have been filed for the molecule and for the development and marketing of several similar molecules.

The CHF 8 million fundraising round took place in three steps. CHF 0.5 million and CHF 2.3 million in seed money were raised in 2016 before a final CHF 5.2 million was raised this year from PPF Group and private investors.

PR author: Cécilia Carron (EPFL)


Working in close collaboration with the screening platform BSF ACCESS, EPFL, the group of Professor Freddy Radtke (past NCCR member) performed screening campaigns of about 75’000 compounds (including the 54K-compound chemically diverse collection) using an innovative co-culture cellular assay to identify novel small molecules capable of modulating Notch signaling, a key cellular pathway controlling oncogenesis and cancer stem cells. After hits validation and confirmation experiments, valuable newly identified chemical entities triggered drug discovery programs through the creation of the company Cellestia Biotech co-founded by Professor Freddy Radtke and Dr Rajwinder Lehal.

The company has a Worldwide Exclusive License Agreement signed with EPFL since June 2014.

(Gerardo Turcatti: Director of the BSF-ACCESS facility (EPFL) and head of the ACCESS project).