Rotterdam and Cambridge, Massachusetts – July 24, 2013 — Harbour Antibodies BV, the creator of transgenic mice to aid in the discovery of new human antibody-based therapies, has raised €2.5M ($3.3M) to continue R&D and commercialize its technologies. The round was led by Atlas Venture. With the funding, pharma executive BJ Bormann, Ph.D. has been named as CEO. Bormann’s previous positions have included SVP of Business Development and Licensing at Boehringer Ingelheim and VP of Strategic Alliances at Pfizer. Atlas Venture’s Peter Barrett will join the Board of Directors as Chairman.
“The Harbour team has developed technology that is nothing short of a major bioengineering feat,” said Peter Barrett, PhD, partner at Atlas Venture. “Making these mice available to any research organization, public or private, will help accelerate the discovery of promising new human antibody biopharmaceuticals.”
Harbour Antibodies’ transgenic mouse lines are used to generate human antibodies that enable biotech, pharma and academic research labs to accelerate new drug discovery while reducing overall cost. Harbour’s H2L2 mice are for development of conventional human antibodies, while its HCAb mice are for production of human heavy chain-only antibodies. Both transgenic mouse lines are currently available for licensing.
“Transgenic mice use the natural immune response and are a reliable way to generate human antibody-based biologics,” said Professor Frank Grosveld, PhD, co-founder and CSO of Harbour Antibodies, and Chair of the Department of Cell Biology at Erasmus Medical Center, Rotterdam. “There is a need for new transgenic mouse platforms to meet the continuing demand for human antibody therapies. The Harbour H2L2 mice meet the need for normal human antibodies. The HCAb mice provide a novel approach to generate next generation molecules including bispecific human antibodies.” The availability of HCAbs facilitates the generation of soluble human VH domains (human heavy chain variable region domains), the minimal immunoglobulin recognition unit, and thus the construction of novel multi-functional molecules comprising two or more VH domains.
“Monoclonal antibodies have become the primary therapeutic modality for the treatment of a growing number of inflammatory diseases and are a critical component in advancing the treatment of cancer,” said BJ Bormann, PhD, CEO of Harbour Antibodies. “Until now, the capabilities provided by human antibody transgenic mice have been restricted to only a few large pharmaceutical companies. We’re excited to bring these capabilities to pharmaceutical, biotechnology and academic organizations discovering and developing potential antibody therapeutics.”
Harbour Antibodies BV was established in 2006 to use transgenic mouse technology developed in the laboratory of Professor Frank Grosveld at Erasmus MC (Rotterdam, the Netherlands) for engineering mice to produce high affinity human antibodies. The company has developed two types of human immunoglobulin gene transgenic mice: mice that generate “conventional” tetrameric antibodies comprising two heavy and two light immunoglobulin chains (H2L2); and alternatively, mice that generate heavy chain only antibodies comprising two immunoglobulin heavy chains with no light chains (HCAbs). Both Harbour transgenic mouse lines are now available to licensing partners. Please visit www.harbourantibodies.com.
Atlas Venture is a leading early-stage venture capital firm that invests in technology and life sciences companies. Since inception in 1980, we have helped build over 350 companies in more than 16 different countries. Atlas Venture is currently investing from its ninth fund. For more information, please visit www.atlasventure.com.