RheaVita raises €2.5m, looks to disrupt the freeze-drying market

By Jane Byrne contact

- Last updated on GMT

RheaVita GMP-compliant continuous freeze-drying production line © RheaVita
RheaVita GMP-compliant continuous freeze-drying production line © RheaVita

Related tags: Freeze drying, Biologics, Prefilled syringe, Gene therapy, Continuous manufacturing

RheaVita, a company developing continuous freeze-drying technology for biopharma products, has closed a €2.5m (US$3.04m) Series A financing round.

Leading the fundraising effort was Novalis Biotech Acceleration and Participatie Maatschappij Vlaanderen (PMV).

“The Series A will enable us to complete our GMP compliant production line, which will go live by the end of 2021,”​ explained Prof Dr Thomas De Beer, RheaVita CEO.

The company, established in 2018, would not disclose the total amount it has raised to date, however.

Today, almost 50% of FDA and EMA approved biopharma products are freeze-dried to enable stable product distribution and shelf life without the need for expensive cold chain, said RheaVita. It has developed was it says is the world’s first end-to-end continuous freeze-drying solution to address biopharma product development, manufacturing, and supply needs in order to efficiently reach patients.

Advantages over traditional freeze-drying process

Compared to the traditional freeze-drying process, its approach has several advantages, including very fast product and process development with limited experimental efforts, no scale-up issues, reducing cycle times, lower production costs, less clean room space requirements, improving quality assurance and improved and uniform product quality and process uniformity, said the chief executive.

The technology, he said, enables both centralized large volume and decentralized low-volume-high-value product manufacturing and is suited for innovative biological therapies, such as gene therapy, RNA based therapies, antibodies, vaccines, and to produce precision medicines and drug products for rare diseases.

Feasibility testing 

What evidence is there to back up RheaVita’s claims about its technology?

“We have conducted feasibility studies with more than 20 pharmaceutical companies on a wide range of biopharmaceuticals, including but not limited to monoclonal antibodies, vaccines, highly concentrated protein formulations, oligonucleotides, small molecules, nanoparticle technology based formulations, gene therapies, multi dose formulations, dual chamber cartridges, prefilled syringes etc. The RheaVita technology has demonstrated to be an enabler for several biopharmaceutical drug product platforms,”​ Dr De Beer told BioPharma-Reporter.

Breakthrough 

RheaVita was founded as a spin-out of Ghent University in Belgium by De Beer and the company CTO, Jos Corver. “We actually met by accident at a meeting. During the coffee break, I started talking to Jos and found that we had a common interest in freeze-drying. Jos mentioned that he had ideas to make freeze-drying continuous, while I had experience in continuous manufacturing and the development of process monitoring and control systems. We agreed to join forces through a collaboration with Ghent University, which led to the development of a first continuous freeze-drying prototype and demonstrator in 2018. This was when RheaVita was founded.”

The CEO said RheaVita has already started commercializing the technology with pharmaceutical customers. “Besides providing feasibility and continuous freeze-drying process and product development services to customers, RheaVita has also sold its first R&D continuous freeze-drying equipment.”

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