The biotechnology company ZeClinics receives a grant of €1.87M from the European Commission

Department of Experimental and Health Sciences at Universitat Pompeu Fabra (DCEXS - UPF)

A grant awarded to ZeClininics allows it to develop and accelerate the commercialization of one of its flagship products: ZeCardio®, a predictive system for the analysis of the cardiovascular effects of drugs during the discovery phase.

One of the most important challenges for biotech companies is to get enough funding to turn their most innovative projects into reality. Especially those that may give significant returns to society in the form of technical innovation, yet whose development is a technological challenge with a high risk for the company that creates them.

The EU has awarded ZeClinics with the SME Instrument Phase 2, the most important and outstanding grant for small and medium-sized enterprises in Europe. This powerful funding tool is part of Horizon 2020, the EU's main research and innovation programme, with a total budget of €77 billion to be invested in projects of excellence.

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ZeClinics Founding team (from left to right): Ignasi Sahún, Simone Calzolari, Davide D'Amico i Javier Terriente - ZeClinics

The objective of SME Instrument is to promote highly innovative projects, transforming them into concrete commercial solutions with high social and economic impact, both in Europe and globally. Proposing an innovative idea, though, is not enough to be financed by the SME Instrument. Its evaluators are faced with hundreds of excellent projects, yet only a few can finally be funded. “This impressive competition, oftentimes against more established companies than ZeClinics, makes us even prouder to achieve this distinction, but it also increases our responsibility to successfully complete this innovative project”, say the company founders, Davide D’Amico, Javier Terriente, Ignasi Sahún and Simone Calzolari.

ZeCardio®, will become a comprehensive platform allowing for the analysis, both in response to pharmacological treatments and genetic models of cardiovascular disease, of multiple parameters of cardiac physiology and vascular system in hundreds of zebrafish embryos. The automated acquisition of high-frequency videos of hearts and blood vessels will proceed via ZeCardio®. Thanks to its advanced image analysis algorithms, it will allow for the quantification of the most complex cardiotoxicity parameters, including those difficult to assess currently in preclinical models (as cardiac frequency, arrhythmias, atrio-ventricular blockage of 1st, 2nd and 3rd degree, or ejection fraction) and incorporating them to vascular physiology evaluation (as blood flow velocity in veins and arteries, vasodilation, vasoconstriction, etc.).

Through the use of ZeCardio, ZeClinics will be able to analyse all these parameters in an automated way and in a large number of individuals simultaneously (Industrial Scale-up). Therefore, this technology will substantially reduce time and, consequently, the resulting cost of analysis, providing the biotechnology, medical and pharmaceutical industries with a tool capable of achieving the early detection of cardiotoxicity in hundreds of thousands of molecules.

“This huge opportunity means that ZeClinics can accelerate much of its R&D pursuits and consolidate the bases of the  company to tackle even more ambitious challenges. The SME Instrument Phase 2 grant will allow us to achieve a business growth of more than 400% of future turnover and EBITDA, cover 70% of contracted personnel costs and increase our productive capacity by 500%”, conclude the founding members.

ZeClinics is supported by Pompeu Fabra University and was created by the researchers at the University, Davide D'Amico, Javier Terriente, Ignasi Sahún and Simone Calzolari. Its mission is to challenge the traditional drug discovery pipeline by offering a cheap, fast and reliable array of customized assays, to assess the safety and biomedical relevance of new molecules using zebrafish.

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