PRESS RELEASE

Metcela Secures $12.7 Million Series B Financing to Initiate Phase I Clinical Trial in Chronic Heart Failure for MTC001 Cell Therapy

Metcela Secures $12.7 Million Series B Financing to Initiate Phase I Clinical Trial in Chronic Heart Failure for MTC001 Cell Therapy

Metcela Inc., a clinical-stage biotech startup specializing in fibroblast-based cell therapy, announced the closing of its $12.7 million (1.3 billion yen) Series B round, led by The University of Tokyo Edge Capital Partners (UTEC), with participation from new and existing investors including Alfresa Corporation (Alfresa), The Dai-ichi Life Insurance Company, MAKOTO Capita and KSP Inc. As previously released, Japan Lifeline Co., Ltd. (JLL), Sony Innovation Fund, and Tsukuba Exceed Fund (TX Fund) also participated early in Series B round.

Metcela is a clinical-stage Kanagawa-based biotech company bringing cell-based therapies to heart failure patients. Metcela’s lead asset, MTC001 is a cell therapy based on VCAM-1-positive Cardiac Fibroblast (VCF) that re-established a favorable microenvironment and repaired damaged heart tissues in preclinical studies. This new funding round enables the company to initiate Phase I clinical trials in Japan. MTC001 consists of a simple hospital-to-manufacturing site-to-hospital workflow. VCF is collected from a cardiac biopsy in a minimally invasive manner and has significant manufacturing and safety advantages over alternative approaches. This new funding marks a significant milestone in Metcela’s growth as the company while the world class team focuses on expanding its portfolio through streamlining manufacturing process, expansion to other indication with high unmet medical needs and strategic alliances.

Atsushi Usami, Ph.D., and Hiroaki Kobayashi, M.D., MBA. will be joining Metcela’s Board of Directors complementing the already strong team. Dr.Usami is the director and partner at UTEC, and he has vast experience supporting life science startups in Japan achieve global success. Dr. Kobayashi, a former emergency medicine and intensive care physician, brings complementary expertise through various executive positions in the industry.

 

Quote from Dr.Atsushi Usami, Partner at UTEC and Metcela board member:

“We are excited to support Metcela with this investment at such a momentous time. Metcela’s approach to both the science and the business closely aligns to our investment strategy where we value innovative science and technology, strong team and global market and global issues. This marks the largest initial investment transaction in the history of UTEC. We particularly were impressed with their speed of development of their lead product of VCF, which was just a result of academic project 5 years ago. We look forward to working closely with the Metcela team.”

Quote from Dr.Hiroaki Kobayashi, Principal at UTEC and Metcela board member

“As a physician I first handedly saw the impact that myocardial infarction and heart failure has on patients, their families, and the society. Though heart failure affects a huge number of patients globally, there are very-little-to-no fundamental therapeutic options available. We believe we made the investment at a crucial growth stage as Metcela is preparing to initiate their first-in-patient trial in early 2021, which will be a monumental step in bringing the product to the global market. We look forward to working with and supporting the Metcela team.”

 

<Metcela Inc.>
Metcela Inc., established in 2016, is a clinical-stage biotechnology startup pioneering the research and development of fibroblast-based therapy for chronic diseases that currently have limited therapeutic options. MTC001 is a combination product of autologous cardiac cells (VCAM-1-positive Cardiac Fibroblast, VCF) and a novel catheter delivery system targeting chronic heart failure patients. MTC001 offers two major advantages over other cell therapies: (1) the cell is autologous (patient-derived) and homologous (cardiac-derived), which is most suitable for highly immunogenic organ like the heart, and (2) the minimally invasive catheter is equipped with a highly functional injection needle specifically designed for this therapy to achieve reliable and safe administration of the cells.

 

<The University of Tokyo Edge Capital Partners Co., Ltd. (UTEC)>
UTEC is a venture capital firm that invests in startups that solve global issues of humankind by utilizing science and technologies. Since the inception in 2004, UTEC has managed four venture capital funds (totaling approximately 55 billion yen) and invested in more than 100 start-ups both in Japan and outside, 12 of which went public and 11 achieved successful M&A.

 

<Alfresa Group>
The Alfresa Group is a leader in Japanese healthcare industry which is dedicated to make its corporate philosophy “we create and deliver a fresh life for all” come true through a wide range of business lines including ethical pharmaceutical wholesaling, OTC drugs wholesaling, pharmaceutical manufacturing, and operating dispensing pharmacies. Alfresa Holdings Corporation (TSE:2784) reported its consolidated revenue of ¥2.7 trillion (US$25 billion) for the fiscal year ended March 31, 2020.

 

<The Dai-ichi Life Insurance Company, Limited>
The Dai-ichi Life Insurance Company, Limited was founded in 1902 as the first mutual company in Japan. Since then, Dai-ichi Life became the first major Japanese life insurer to be listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange in 2010, and it shifted to a holding company structure in 2016. Throughout its history, Dai-ichi Life has consistently taken on the challenge of transforming itself for its customers and society. Dai-ichi Life manages approximately 35 trillion yen of assets as an institutional investor. While taking into consideration the characteristics of life insurance policy liabilities, Dai-ichi Life conducts asset management with a focus on asset and liability management (ALM), mainly investing in fixed-income assets. From the viewpoint of improving profitability, Dai-ichi Life also actively invests in start-ups, focusing on areas that have high affinity with its life insurance business, such as medical/healthcare and Fintech fields.

 

<KSP, Inc>
KSP, Inc. is a well-established startup incubator located at Kawasaki, Japan. We have invested in Metcela Inc. through KSP No.6 Investment fund, formed in January 2020. The target of the fund is deep tech startups from pre-seed to early stage. We have managed six funds totaling JPY 5.81 billion and 15 companies have gone public so far. KSP was founded in 1986 as a core organization of the Kanagawa Science Park and provides optimal services including rental office/lab, venture fund, startup school and so on.

 

<MAKOTO Capital>
MAKOTO Capital is a professional firm within the MAKOTO Group, a business creation company based in Sendai city in the northeast of Tokyo. Under the slogan of “Growth from Tohoku”, MAKOTO Capital is currently expanding its funding, accelerator, and management consulting business. MAKOTO Capital is committed to supporting entrepreneurs and companies operating in the Tohoku regions, building an ecosystem of business development and growth in the region.