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Etherna, a Flanders-based biotech company, has secured a multi-million euro deal with Spanish pharmaceutical firm Almirall, specializing in skin medication. This partnership could yield up to EUR 300 million for etherna.

Etherna’s mRNA technology

Etherna specializes in messenger-RNA or mRNA, a technology that delivers a genetic shopping list to cells, prompting them to produce therapeutic proteins themselves. This technology became widely known as the underlying technology behind the COVID-19 vaccines from the American-German duo Pfizer-BioNTech and the American Moderna. In addition, etherna has technology to produce custom-made lipid nanoparticles. These are the fat globules that envelop the mRNA, or genetic material, in the COVID-19 vaccines, preventing it from being broken down in the body.

Almirall’s expertise in dermatology

Almirall, a Spanish pharmaceutical company that has skin medications on the market, such as for psoriasis, wants to develop mRNA-based therapies for severe skin diseases with etherna, such as non-melanoma skin cancer.

Etherna’s strategic shift

Etherna, established in 2013 as a spin-off from the Free University of Brussels (VUB), initially embarked on a journey to create its own treatments for conditions such as cancer and infectious diseases like malaria. However, these efforts didn’t yield the desired results. Last year, etherna made a strategic decision to pause its own research on candidate therapies, as stated by CEO Bernard Sagaert. High costs were a factor, but the belief in the immense value of their technology platforms also played a significant role. Now, etherna is channeling its focus towards collaborations with pharmaceutical companies using its two technology platforms. The company has successfully raised €39 million from investors, including the co-founder of Moderna. Etherna is hopeful about securing more deals in the future, similar to the one with Almirall.

Thriving in Flanders’ life sciences & health ecosystem

Etherna is one of the many companies that make Flanders’ ecosystem for life sciences & health so successful. Want to unravel this ecosystem? Head to the Flanders360 platform and discover 300+ successful companies, universities, R&D centers and other players active in Flanders’ life sciences & health industry.

Reported by
De Tijd Newspaper

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