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French biotech SeaBeLife raises €1.5M to develop drugs for advance form of AMD

Seabelife founder
Picture credit: Seabelife

Geographic atrophy (an advanced form of AMD) is a serious ophthalmological disease that reportedly affects over five million patients worldwide. As this is an area of significant unmet need in the medical sector, the potential market in Europe and the US is worth an estimated €2.4 billion. By developing innovative treatments such as its drug candidate, French biotech SeaBeLife aims to respond to this unmet need and improve the quality of life for millions of people affected by this disease.

The startup that develops drug candidates intended to block cellular necrosis has raised over €1.5 million in financing for its SeaBeEYE project at the i-Nov 2024 innovation competition. 

The round saw participation from the French government’s France 2030 investment plan and was administered by Bpifrance (invested in Gamestream and Metyos) in collaboration with ADEME, the French ecological transition agency. This competition aims to support some of the highly innovative projects developed by French businesses. 

Develops drugs for advanced form of AMD

Founded in 2019 and based in Roscoff in Brittany, France, SeaBeLife is led by CEO and co-founder Morgane Rousselot, who holds a PhD in biochemistry from Sorbonne University/the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS)/Roscoff Marine Station.

Its technology develops small molecules that simultaneously target two different regulated cell death pathways – necroptosis and ferroptosis. With these molecules, it aims to find much-needed solutions for treating rare, acute, and chronic diseases. Its main programs include SBL01 for the treatment of severe acute hepatitis and SBL03 for the treatment of age-related macular degeneration.

It also has the potential to treat a wide range of serious diseases. In focusing its research on rare diseases, such as liver diseases, dry AMD, and neurodegenerative conditions, SeaBeLife hopes to find solutions to some of the most critical unmet medical needs.

The SeaBeEYE project

The company’s SeaBeEYE project aims to develop a new therapeutic approach for geographic atrophy, an advanced and prevalent form of age-related macular degeneration (AMD). With few treatment options, this is one of the most significant unmet needs in the field of ophthalmology. 

SeaBeLife conducted its initial proof of concept using a dry AMD preclinical model. Two innovative formulations were tested. The first was a sustained-release intravitreal injection, meaning patients would only need to have injections every two to three months. This was validated in vitro. The second is a prototype eye gel for topical application (no injections required). Initial in vivo results confirm that this formulation is effective in transferring the active ingredient to the retina.

Its SeaBeEYE project focuses on a drug candidate’s preclinical and regulatory development with an innovative formulation. The company aims to have a treatment option ready for human clinical trials by the first quarter of 2026.

“This financial backing is proof of the quality and potential of our project and will enable us to accelerate its development,” explained Morgane Rousselot, CEO and co-founder of SeaBeLife. “We now have the funds we need to move forward, while remaining open to potential collaborations with other industry partners and financial backers.”

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