The Dutch company Serra Holding invests in SwiftPharma: a fast-growing biotech company specialized in plant-based recombinant DNA medicines.

Serra Holding, the investment vehicle of the Touwen family, has taken a significant stake in SwiftPharma, a fast-growing biotech company from Ghent. The company with headquarters in Ghent, specializes in the research, development, and production of recombinant DNA proteins in plants such as vaccines, antivirals, hormones, monoclonal antibodies, hematopoietic growth factors, and artificial blood substitutes.

By using plants as sustainable mini-bioreactors, SwiftPharma develops biotherapeutics in a fast, scalable, cost-efficient way for a variety of indications including cancer, infectious diseases, genetic disorders, and more.

Marius Touwen: “I didn't know what I heard. This technology makes vaccines and biotherapeutics available much faster and on a larger scale. In traditional production of these types of proteins, scaling up to increasingly larger culture vessels takes a long time, and each phase has complex challenges. With the SwiftPharma system it is simple: In two plants you produce twice as much as in 1 plant, and you can put tens of thousands of them to work at the same time."

The company's mission is therefore to make medicines more accessible to large groups of people who currently do not have access to these treatments, and to realize GMP production capacity on a commercially relevant scale. SwiftPharma has already signed contracts for the development of several biomedicines, including a contract with the American Population Council and the renowned National Institutes of Health (NIH) for the development of an HIV non-antiretroviral entry inhibitor, and a contract with PlantForm Corporation (in collaboration with Bio-Manguinhos, the Brazil Ministry of Health) for the production of a biosimilar monoclonal antibody for the treatment of skin cancer.

In addition, SwiftPharma produces human recombinant collagen in plants using proprietary patented technology. A contract has been signed with French biotech company Arthrocart for the production of Collagen Type I and II which will be used to develop artificial meniscus implants. SwiftPharma also entered into ongoing discussions with a number of cosmetic manufacturers for its collagen ingredient.

Serra Holding is part of the family office of the Touwen family. The family is active in healthcare, including mental health care and also owns the Red Cross hospital in Beverwijk. Serra Holding also invests in CimCure, a Dutch biotech company developing an innovative vaccine against bladder cancer and castration-resistant prostate cancer (CRPC). For the Touwen family, SwiftPharma is a strategic impact investment that will help the company realize its ambitions.

CEO and founder of SwiftPharma Jeroen Hofenk: "At SwiftPharma we believe in the power of innovation and the mission to make healthcare accessible to everyone, regardless of geographic location or economic status. From the beginning, we have focused on developing affordable and effective biomedicines, specifically for emerging markets where the need is greatest, such as in Africa."

The partnership was established through the mediation of Headstart BV, Raymond Perrenet, Erik Grimmelikhuysen, Philippe Van den Broecke, and Agio Legal.