It’s hard to keep up with Dr. Hans Keirstead, the internationally known stem cell expert who has started and sold four companies.
His latest venture is Irvine-based Immunis Inc., a biotechnology company developing a novel treatment for age and disease-related immune decline.
The company, which has 10 employees, recently closed a $10 million Series A First Closing financing led by Seattle’s Remiges Ventures with participation by several other healthcare investment firms.
Proceeds will support clinical assessment of Immunis’ immunomodulatory secretome product in an FDA-awarded Phase 1/2a clinical trial targeting muscle atrophy, which is an age, disuse and disease-associated condition experienced by 100% of the population, according to the company.
“The completion of this financing round reflects strong asset development, an outstanding team and a focused strategy,” Keirstead, chairman of Immunis, said in a statement.
Keirstead has more than three decades of experience in regenerative medicine. He led the development of a treatment that restored movement and sensory function to people with quadriplegic spinal cord injury, and a treatment for cancer that has saved the lives of people with melanoma, brain cancer and ovarian cancer.
He has also led therapy development for immune disorders, motor neuron diseases and retinal diseases, as well as a vaccine for COVID-19.
Previously, he was a professor at the University of California, Irvine where he founded and directed and raised the money to build the $77 million Sue and Bill Gross Stem Cell Research Center. He’s published over 100 manuscripts and granted over 20 patents.
Each of his four prior companies has sold to large or midsized pharmaceutical companies for 2.5 times to 9.5 times returns to investors. He holds board positions in several prominent biotechnology companies.
Keirstead is currently chief executive at Aivita Biomedical, an Irvine-based stem cell therapy firm holding trials for cancers and a maker of a vaccine for COVID-19.
He is a nominee for the Business Journal’s Innovator of the Year award, scheduled for Sept. 8 at the Irvine Marriott.
An inevitable consequence of aging is a decline of immune system health, leading to degenerative conditions such as muscle atrophy.
Mitigating the loss of muscle and improving muscle recovery are unmet medical needs.
Immunis says its unique secretome treatment, IMM01-STEM, addresses medical needs using natural immunomodulators with potent cytoskeletal remodeling properties.
“This is a first-in-sector immunomodulatory secretome product, and Immunis is excited to be entering human clinical testing,” said Dr. Tom Lane, chief science officer of Immunis. “The secretome is all natural, all human and represents a perfectly balanced set of immune modulators in naturally occurring, relevant physiological concentrations.”
The company said third-party preclinical safety studies have confirmed the product to be safe and well tolerated.