Raised millions to develop a treatment for ´butterfly children´

Fragile as a butterfly’s wing – that’s how people living with Epidermolysis Bullosa are usually described. The Lund-based company Xinnate recently raised SEK 100 million in a new share issue to finance the development of a treatment they hope will give those affected an improved quality of life.

Why do some wounds heal and others don’t? That was the question that professor and dermatologist Artur Schmidtchen asked himself, and that led to the discovery of a peptide, TCP-25, which has been shown to play a crucial role in the healing process.

The peptide now forms the basis of a treatment developed by Lund-based company Xinnate to treat serious inflammatory skin conditions and hard-to-heal wounds. The treatment consists of a gel that patients can apply at home.

As a first step in the development, the company targeted the rare and genetic disease Epidermolysis Bullosa and primarily Dystrophic Epidermolysis Bullosa.

“Many of these patients are children and they are often called butterfly children because their skin is so fragile,” says Helene Hartman, CEO of Xinnate, to Life Science Sweden.

Epidermolysis Bullosa, abbreviated as EB, is the collective name for rare hereditary diseases that cause blisters. Common to the diseases is the absence of certain proteins, such as collagen, in the skin.

“Basically, it means that they have no ‘glue’ to keep the different layers of skin together, and the symptom is caused by various genetic defects.”

The slightest touch or pressure will cause blisters and sores that often become inflamed and infected and difficult to heal. The disease is sometimes referred to as “the worst disease you’ve never heard of”, and it can be life-threatening in severe cases.

Xinnate is currently conducting a phase I study with its gel-based treatment and last year raised SEK 100 million in a new issue to finance a phase II study with EB patients around Europe. In parallel with the development of the company’s treatment for EB, it has also received USD 1.7 million from the US Department of Defense to further develop the treatment to target pressure ulcers.

Few treatments for EB are currently available, but last year, the gene therapy Vyjuvek from Krystal Biotech was approved for the treatment of dystrophic EB, as previously reported by Life Science Sweden.

“The treatment is very expensive and will not be available to all patients, so there is a great medical demand.”

In addition to raising capital, Xinnate has also applied for a patent for its treatment.

“We have a solid scientific basis and very promising results from the studies we have conducted so far,” says Helene Hartman.

If their treatment reaches the market, she believes that it can make a huge difference to this group of patients.

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