IP Montevideo signs first agreement as partner of a biotech start-up

For the first time, the Institut Pasteur de Montevideo became a partner of a biotech start-up -Xeptiva Therapeutics-, a new business model that the institute has been promoting through its Lab+ initiative.

The agreement – which is a historic milestone for both parties – was signed on Thursday, December 21, between representatives of the institute and Xeptiva Therapeutics. Zentynel Frontier Investments, a company that specializes in the development of biotech ventures in Latin America, facilitated the process and was also present at the event.

Xeptiva is the result of 10 years of scientific studies carried out by Luis Barbeito, Emiliano Trías and Valentina Varela, investigators at the IP Montevideo. This work consisted in the development of an innovative immunotherapy that is able to block some factors that cause chronic pain and inflammation to be used as a treatment for companion animals.

The importance of the agreement

Convinced that Uruguay must rely on science, technology and innovation as drivers of sustainable development, this type of agreement is an opportunity to close the virtuous circle between the generation and valorization of scientific knowledge, said Carlos Batthyány, director of the institute.

‘This agreement, if everything goes as we hope, will allow the institute to recoup its investment and have significant revenues that will be reinjected into doing more and better science’, Batthyány added.

‘This agreement is a huge step forward for the life of Xeptiva’, saidJosefina Correa, co-founder and CEO of the start-up. ‘Although we have been working side by side with the Institut for several years, now that the company has grown significantly and managed to attract private capital and generate novel intellectual property, having the support of a prestigious institution such as the Pasteur is essential to build the pillars of the company’s future scientific growth. In addition, this agreement represents an important milestone for the country’s biotechnology sector, which is in full development’, she added.

In particular, these therapies are focused on diseases whose common denominator is chronic inflammation. These diseases include, for example, osteoarthritis in dogs and cats – which causes chronic pain, progressive and disabling motor impairment -, and atopic dermatitis in dogs. The latter is a very difficult to treat skin inflammation that causes itching, skin lesions and a significant decrease in the quality of life of pets.

‘We are very pleased with this agreement, not only because the institute saw us starting out as researchers and entrepreneurs and supported us in all stages of the way, but also because we will continue working together with the same goal’, noted Emiliano Trías, co-founder and CSO of Xeptiva and researcher at the institute.

Luis Barbeito, co-founder of Xeptiva, is also responsible for the Neurodegeneration Laboratory of the institute, the scientific field in which – together with Trías and Varela – the line of research that the start-up is developing today began.

This laboratory, created 17 years ago when the institute was founded, will cease to operate as such to become the start-up and will continue to advance original and disruptive research, no longer as academics but as bioentrepreneurial scientists.

‘I am pleased to think that Xeptiva will continue to do research within the institute thanks to this agreement, and that in turn the institute will benefit financially in the future from its participation in the company. It is therefore a novel situation, that is promising and allows the application and valorization of a lot of knowledge accumulated over several decades of research’, Barbeito stressed.


Xeptiva’s next steps

Xeptiva is raising an investment round led by Zentynel Frontier Investments. Through this investment round and the new agreement generated with the institute, during 2024, Xeptiva will complete clinical trials for two of its lead products, Xep01 and Xep02, intended for the treatment of chronic pain and atopic dermatitis in dogs, respectively.

These developments will also involve the Facultad de Veterinaria, with which the company has entered into an exclusive agreement to carry out clinical trials on pets in Uruguay. In addition, ANII’s support has been fundamental to Xeptiva’s growth in recent years because it has enhanced the company’s capabilities and validated the commitment of private investors to the start-up.

The company will seek to register its products in the Latin American market during 2025, and then focus on North American and European markets.


About Zentynel

Zentynel arose as a “convergent evolution” between Fundación Ciencia & Vida and Venturance Investments, which -from different industries- identified the need for biotechnology ventures to have a specialized investor, as well as an opportunity to contribute both capital and experience, in order to accelerate the development and growth of this type of initiatives in the region.

Zentynel Frontier Investments seeks to be the convergence of two worlds: investment and innovation in Biotechnology.