Millions for Medicine Inspired by Snake Venom

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The Leiden biotech company VarmX will receive 17.5 million euros from an innovation program of the European Union.


The money is intended to increase the production of a drug-inspired by snake venom. It prevents serious bleeding in patients taking blood thinners, especially during emergency surgery.

VarmX’s drug consists of a protein inspired by the venom of the Australian brown snake, the second most venomous species in the world. Researchers at the biotech company discovered which venom protein is responsible for blood clotting and have developed a variant of this through genetic modification that works in the human body.

Patients taking blood thinners for cardiovascular disease sometimes experience severe spontaneous bleeding. VarmX’s drug should counteract that.

VarmX is one of 65 selected start-ups and SMEs, spanning 16 countries, to receive hundreds of millions in funding for groundbreaking innovations. The money will come from the EU innovation program European Innovation Council (EIC) Accelerator.

A panel of evaluators and EIC judges recommended that VarmX be awarded the maximum funding allowed. As part of the EIC community, VarmX also benefits from other benefits such as coaching, mentorship and access to investors and companies.

Currently, more than 10 million patients in the United States and Europe are treated with blood thinners. Of these, 2 to 3 percent experience spontaneous and severe life-threatening bleeding. VarmX’s drug is intended for this group.

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