These are the top 10 biotechnology companies at the forefront of Poland’s emerging biotech sector, which is becoming a hotspot for startups.
Over the last decade, Poland has seen the rise of its biotech industry. While the country’s pharmaceutical industry has traditionally focused on developing generics, many of these companies have started moving towards developing biologics. Meanwhile, biotech startups in Poland are working on developing brand new technologies, with a big focus on treatments for cancer and autoimmune disease.
As the country sums success stories in its biotech sector, more and more academics and entrepreneurs have been encouraged to take the leap and start a business in Poland’s flourishing biotech industry. We got in touch with experts to collect the names of the 10 companies at the forefront of the country’s promising biotech industry.
Selvita is the largest drug discovery company in Poland, employing about 600 scientists and making over €25M in yearly revenues. Trading in the Warsaw Stock Exchange since 2014, the company focuses on developing cancer drugs. Its most advanced program is a targeted therapy for acute myeloid leukemia that is currently being tested in phase I/II trials in partnership with the pharma company Menarini.
Location: Konstantynów Łódzki
Located in a small industrial town, Mabion develops antibody drugs. The company’s most advanced drug candidate is a biosimilar of Roche’s rituximab, an antibody used to treat blood cancer and arthritis, which is currently awaiting approval from the EMA and FDA. Mabion is also running preclinical trials, including a new treatment for multiple sclerosis and a biosimilar of the cancer drug cetuximab.
Pure Biologics develops antibody drugs as well as DNA aptamers — DNA molecules that, much like antibodies, bind to a specific target. The company’s most advanced program is developing an aptamer intended to treat Devic’s disease, an autoimmune condition that causes episodes of sight loss and paralysis, which is expected to enter clinical trials in 2023. In its antibody pipeline, Pure Biologics is focusing on immuno-oncology, with colorectal cancer as its first target.
OncoArendi Therapeutics develops drugs that target chitinase and chitinase-like proteins. While it was thought in the past that these proteins cannot be found in humans, more recent studies have proven they do, and they play an important role in regulating the intensity of the immune response. OncoArendi’s most advanced drug candidate is being tested in phase I trials as a treatment for asthma and other lung diseases, while other preclinical candidates target cancer.
Proteon Pharmaceuticals produces feed additives that can prevent and eliminate bacterial infections in livestock. The additives contain bacteriophages, viruses that only infect specific strains of bacteria, reducing the risk of pathogens developing antibiotic resistance. The company has two products in the market, one to kill salmonella in poultry, and another against Pseudomonas and Aeromonas bacteria in aquaculture. Proteon is also developing human health products in its early research pipeline.
With offices in Wroclaw and Basel, Captor Therapeutics develops drugs that lead to the break down of disease-causing proteins. This approach lets the company go after disease targets that were previously considered undruggable. In addition to offering drug discovery services, the company is building its own pipeline, focusing on cancer and autoimmune diseases.
While it started as more of a traditional pharma, Celon Pharma has recently started investing in developing biologics, in particular biosimilars. The company is developing a biosimilar of Genentech’s antibody drug for age-related macular degeneration, Lucentis, which is currently in preclinical trials. Celon Pharma has been listed on the Warsaw Stock Exchange since 2016, with a market cap of over €400M.
Bowil Biotech uses bacterial fermentation to produce biocellulose on an industrial scale. The company currently sells wound dressings and face masks made of biocellulose. It is researching many more applications, including heart prostheses, analgesic dressings, contact lenses, or high-strength paper among others.
Bioavlee is developing a method for the rapid identification of microorganisms without having to sequence their DNA. The company’s technology can identify bacteria with over 90% accuracy by shining a laser on the sample and measuring the unique patterns created by each type of microorganism. It does this using self-learning algorithms.
A spin-out of the Warsaw University of Technology, NanoVelos is developing nanoparticles to deliver cancer drugs. The nanoparticles, made of dextran molecules, are designed to only release the drugs they carry when inside a cancer cell, thus increasing the drug’s efficacy while reducing its potential side effects. The technology is still in preclinical development, with some of the projects focusing on enhancing generic forms of existing drugs.