Venture Challenge alumnus Protinhi Therapeutics selected as part of BLUE KNIGHT™ collaboration for pandemic preparedness
Nijmegen -- Protinhi Therapeutics, a Netherlands-based biotechnology company specializing in protease inhibition with the aim to combat viral infectious diseases, today announced it has been selected to join BLUE KNIGHT™, a global community of early-stage biotech companies.
Blue Knight is a joint initiative created between Johnson & Johnson Innovation – JLABS ('JLABS') and the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA). Protinhi is the third European biotech startup to become a Blue Knight company, and its selection highlights the growth trajectory of a company operating in a priority area with high unmet medical need.
Operationally active since 2016, Protinhi specializes in the development of novel antivirals against upcoming viral health threats. Compounds developed using Protinhi's novel platform inhibit essential (viral) proteases ensuring viral transmission is blocked and are designed to be harnessed for both for therapeutic and prophylactic use.
Having secured a series A funding round for preclinical development from several private and public investors in the Netherlands, Protinhi is seeking international venture capital funding for its next round of investment in order to enter clinical phase I/II studies on dengue and pan-flavi viral infectious diseases via broad-spectrum antivirals. The funding is intended to help Protinhi develop its proprietary technology platform to combat dengue, Zika, West Nile virus and other highly infectious diseases.
Dengue, Zika and West Nile viruses belong to the same Flaviviridae family which are mainly mosquito-borne and found in tropical and sub-tropical climates worldwide. Research has shown that these viruses share the same infection mechanisms. Viral proteases (proteins cleaving long, inactive viral polypeptides into smaller, active proteins) play a critical role in these mechanisms. Blocking the function of these proteases stops replication of the virus.
Protinhi's selection as a Blue Knight company demonstrates BARDA and JLABS' recognition of the need for innovative platform technologies that support the development of broad-spectrum approaches, as the world recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic. Blue Knight was created with the aim to unlock the collective power of a global community of innovative, early-stage start-ups that are strategically aligned to combat 21st century health threats and emerging infectious diseases.
As a Blue Knight company, Protinhi can benefit from continuing support and assistance within the JLABS' global innovation ecosystem. In particular, the company can now access dedicated mentorship and support from BARDA, in addition to JLABS' extensive global network across all areas of scientific innovation, for valuable insights aiming to help advance its development.
"Being invited to join the Blue Knight initiative is a significant step in our development. It is fantastic to be working alongside other innovative companies with a shared goal of protecting the world against future health emergencies. We have all seen how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected lives all over the world, so this is an exciting opportunity to be part of a collaborative response," said Bernd van Buuren, CEO of Protinhi Therapeutics.