Satt Aquitaine-founded TreeFrog has now raised $11.1m in equity and grant funding, having secured follow-on contributions from investors including the tech transfer office.

TreeFrog Therapeutics, a France-based stem cell culture developer established by regional tech transfer office Satt Aquitaine, yesterday attracted €7.1m ($7.8m) in a series A round featuring the TTO.

XAnge, the VC arm of private equity group Siparex, led the round with participation from regional investment entities Galia Gestion, Irdi Soridec Gestion and Aquiti Gestion.

Founded in 2018, TreeFrog Therapeutics is working on a 3D cell culture technology called C-Stem that accelerates the mass production of stem cells while avoiding detriment to the output’s genomic integrity.

Cell therapy research programs are currently hampered by manufacturing bottlenecks owed to the fragility and delays in growing pluripotent stem cells, an issue TreeFrog hopes to resolve with its approach.

The capital will go towards developing C-Stem with the aim of attaining Current Good Manufacturing Practices standard – the quality benchmark for human pharmaceuticals set out by US healthcare regulatory Food and Drug Administration – by 2021.

TreeFrog Therapeutics has delivered an initial batch of 143 millio human pluripotent stem cells to the Imagine Institute, a cell and gene therapy research centre, and now plans to start cell therapy programs targeting indications including heart failure, Parkinson’s disease and diabetes, ahead of a first-in-human clinical trial anticipated in 2024.

The spinout extends research originating from the Digital Photonics and Nanoscience Laboratory (LP2N) – affiliated to University of Bordeaux, French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) and Institut d’Optique Graduate School.

Its co-founders include Maxime Feyeux and Kevin Alessandri, two researchers from LP2N, as well as CNRS’s director of research at the laboratory, Pierre Nassoy, and Erwan Bézart, director of research at CNRS’s institute of neurodegenerative disease in Bordeaux.

Prior to the latest round, TreeFrog Therapeutics had amassed a total of $3.3m in capital, though the figure includes grant awards.

It obtained €600,000 ($680,000) in a December 2018 seed round backed by Aquiti Gestion, Irdi Soridec Gestion and private investor John Samson, after Satt Aquitaine had put up $1.4m for proof-of-concept and production preparations earlier that year.