Over 17 million new patients are diagnosed with heart failure every year worldwide, in large part because of cardiac damage suffered after myocardial infarction. This is due to the loss of millions of contractile cells (cardiomyocytes), which the adult human heart has very limited ability to replace.
Despite remarkable progress in the treatment of ischemic cardiac disease and in assisting the failing heart with mechanical devices, the prognosis of heart failure remains poor.
The newly created company stems from Prof. Mauro Giacca’s ground-breaking research on cardiomyocytes regeneration that he initiated at the International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB) in Trieste, Italy, before moving to King’s. Patents have been licensed to Heqet Therapeutics by King’s. The proceeds of the Series A investment will be used to complete pre-clinical work and advance the RNA-based therapeutic towards clinical trials.
I am truly excited by the opportunity of bringing our research to the many patients who have suffered a heart attack. Regenerating a damaged human heart has been a dream until a few years ago, but can now become a reality– Prof. Mauro Giacca, Head of the School of Cardiovascular Medicine
Marta Antonucci, who headed Cardiovascular Lab, an early-stage venture builder, after a decades-long career in the cardiovascular sector, joins Heqet Therapeutics as Chief Executive Officer.
“I feel very privileged to have this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Harnessing the heart’s power to regenerate itself and potentially preventing millions of patients from progressing into heart failure is the most rewarding endeavour I can possibly undertake at this stage in my career” said Marta Antonucci, Chief Executive Officer of Heqet Therapeutics.
“Heart disease is the leading cause of death worldwide and it has a dramatic impact on patients and healthcare systems” added Pietro Puglisi, Managing Partner at Claris Ventures, and Hansjoerg Plaggemars, CEO at 2Invest. “We are excited to support Heqet Therapeutics in their efforts to advance transformational therapies for cardiac diseases toward clinical application”.
Prof. Richard Trembath, Senior Vice-President (Health) from King's, said: “Our ecosystem supports and encourages innovation and entrepreneurism. We are delighted to play an important role in fostering the further development of this company and the innovative therapies it is seeking to produce.
In conjunction with the Series A financing, Pietro Puglisi (Claris Ventures), Dr Heikki Lanckriet (2Invest), Prof. Mauro Giacca (Head of the School of Cardiovascular Medicine & Sciences at King’s) and Prof. Ajay Shah (Executive Dean of the Faculty of Life Sciences & Medicine) will join the board of Heqet Therapeutics as directors.