BioWorld International Correspondent
PARIS - DBV Technologies closed a second round financing, in which it raised €12.3 million (US $15.1 million) from four Paris-based venture capital funds.
The funding was led by Sofinnova Partners, which invested €7 million, while Apax Partners France was co-lead investor and put up €5 million. Another €350,000 was provided by DBV's historical investors, Cap Décisif and Creagro.
DBV Technologies, based in Boulogne-Billancourt, France, was founded in 2002 and has developed a technology called E-patch, for the delivery of proteins and peptides into the skin. In particular, the E-patch has demonstrated its effectiveness as a safe and accurate diagnostic tool for detecting allergy to milk and house dust mites.
Its particular merits include the fact that the active ingredient does not need to be formulated with an excipient and that the product can be stored at ambient temperatures while still delivering conformational proteins into the skin on application. The patch itself is self-adhesive and contains an empty chamber with a plastic film holding the active ingredient in powder form indefinitely by permanent electrostatic forces. When the patch is applied to the skin, water condensation arising from the skin causes the powder to hydrate, setting up a diffusion gradient between the patch and the skin. At the same time, the condensation causes the pores to dilate, allowing the passage of the active substance.
DBV says its E-patch also is simple to use and cheaper to manufacture than many other patches. Its first product, Diallertest Milk, a diagnostic test for allergy to milk, has been on the market in France since June 2004 and in other countries (notably Mexico and the major Middle Eastern countries) since October 2005.
Chairman and CEO Jean-François Biry told BioWorld International that the product was marketed in countries in which DBV had found willing distributors, but added that the countries concerned also reflected the fact that milk allergy increases the further south you go. With the latest injection of funds, he said DBV intended to launch Diallertest Milk in the U.S., as well.
He added that DBV was developing other diagnostic tests for allergies to mites and pollen, but pointed out that, whereas Diallertest Milk is classified as a medical device and is thus on free sale in pharmacies, future diagnostic tests embodying allergens would be treated as pharmaceutical products and thus be subject to a longer clinical development process (although not as lengthy as that for drugs).
At the same time, DBV Technologies is developing its patch technology for the delivery of therapeutics in the area of allergy desensitization (specific immunotherapy). Biry said the first clinical trial of a product from its allergy therapeutics program would probably get under way in the first quarter of 2007.
In addition, the company is working on other therapeutic applications of the E-patch, including vaccinations and the delivery of peptides and other pharmaceutical products.
DBV now has funds to last it for "several years," Biry said. Before the latest round, he said, DBV had raised €1 million from Cap Décisif and Creagro in an initial funding round in 2003, plus a further €1 million in the form of interest-free loans from the French National Research Promotion Agency.