Irish VC Fountain Healthcare invests in Calypso Biotech’s $28m Series A

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The Dutch start-up will use the funds to progress its research into novel autoimmune disease treatment.

Fountain Healthcare Partners, the Irish life sciences venture capital firm, has invested in Dutch company Calypso Biotech.

The investment formed part of Calypso Biotech’s $8m extension to its 2019 Series A funding round, bringing the total raised in the round to $28m. Fountain Healthcare joined Gilde Healthcare, Inkef Capital, Johnson & Johnson Innovation and M Ventures as investors in the Dutch start-up.

Alongside the investment, Dr Ena Prosser of Fountain Healthcare’s Dublin office is to join the board of Calypso Biotech.

The start-up is working on novel treatments for coeliac disease. Its flagship product is CALY-002, a humanised monoclonal antibody that suppresses a signalling protein named Interleukin-15 (IL-15). Several studies have suggested that suppressing  IL-15 may lessen the effects of the disease.

Alongside the funding announcement, Calypso Biotech also said that it has begun its phase-one clinical trial of CALY-002, which saw human volunteers with coeliac disease and eosinophilic esophagitis, another autoimmune condition, given the antibody.

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The Amsterdam-based start-up was founded in 2013 by Dr Alain Vicari and Dr Yolande Chvatchko, both coming from backgrounds in immunology and drug discovery.

Vicari, Calypso Biotech’s CEO, said the company was delighted to announce the extension of its Series A syndicate with Fountain Healthcare Partners.

“This further validates our ability to attract high-quality investors, and bodes well for our future fundraising campaign,” he added. “These funds will accelerate the development of CALY-002 and bring us one step closer to propose a new treatment paradigm for autoimmune diseases to patients in need.”

Fountain Healthcare was established in 2008 and has offices in Dublin and New York. The firm says it is Ireland’s largest venture capital fund dedicated to life science investments. It has more than €300m in assets under management.

Alongside Prosser, Fountain Healthcare’s partners are Dr Manus Rogan, Aidan King and Justin Lynch.

In late 2020, Fountain Healthcare led a €10.5m Series B round for Neuromod, a Dublin start-up developing tinnitus treatments, and a €30m Series A round for Dublin-headquartered life sciences start-up Priothera.