Toronto Innovation Acceleration Partners, Evotec SE and Canadian life sciences venture capital firm AmorChem have together invested C$1.75 million in the Netherton Syndrome project at Toronto-based Sinai Health. The Netherton Syndrome is a rare skin disease that affects one in 200,000 newborns worldwide.
TORONTO, May 12, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Toronto Innovation Acceleration Partners (TIAP), Evotec SE and AmorChem II Fund L.P. (AmorChem) are pleased to announce a $1.75M investment into a drug development project focused on a rare skin disease called Netherton Syndrome, that affects one in 200,000 newborns worldwide.
The project was initiated in partnership with a group of scientists from Sinai Health’s Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute (LTRI) in Toronto, Canada and focuses on a specific group of enzymes called tissue kallikreins. These proteins play a critical role in development of Netherton Syndrome and other skin inflammatory diseases. In 2018, TIAP and Evotec, through their drug discovery acceleration platform LAB150, provided funding, medicinal chemistry expertise, project management and business development support to advance initial efforts.
With $1.75M additional financing from the consortium, the project will now complete crucial pre-clinical studies including lead optimization with the goal of generating a kallikrein-targeting candidate for IND-enabling studies by 2021.
According to lead project scientist Dr. Ioannis Prassas at LTRI, the novel kallikrein-focused approach holds promise for treating Netherton Syndrome and, more broadly, atopic inflammatory dermatitis. “The identification of skin kallikreins as key driver molecules in the pathology of various skin inflammatory diseases has created exciting new opportunities for novel kallikrein-targeting therapeutics,” Prassas said.
Prassas and fellow LTRI scientists Dr. Eleftherios Diamandis and Antoninus Soosaipillai have spent many years researching the healthy function and disease-related roles of skin kallikreins. The team’s research shows that excessive kallikrein activity in the outer layers of skin promotes development of skin inflammatory diseases.
About two to five per cent of all people and up to 30 per cent of newborns suffer from skin inflammatory diseases worldwide.
Dr. Diamandis, a world expert on kallikrein research, added, “It is exciting to witness the translation of our accumulated knowledge on kallikreins into potential new therapies. We are excited to be working with TIAP, Evotec and Amorchem to move this technology forward.”
“The strong biological validation and advancement of the project fit very well in our investment strategy. We were attracted by the quality of the work orchestrated in Dr. Diamandis’ laboratory in collaboration with LAB150 and our past experience encouraged us to foray once again in an orphan indication,” explains Kevin McBride, Chief Scientific Officer and Partner at AmorChem. “We believe that our early-stage investment expertise can benefit this project and are looking forward to working with our three new partners on the path to commercial success,” said Ines Holzbaur, Managing Partner at AmorChem.
“We are excited to see the LAB150 program deliver on its promise to advance academic innovation to investment-ready projects and to attract important interest from venture investors, such as AmorChem. The financial commitment and expertise now available to the project will allow for meaningful advancement towards a potential breakthrough treatment for patients. It also demonstrates the significance of working together with like-minded partners to advance Canadian innovation towards venture creation,” said Parimal Nathwani, President & CEO of TIAP.
“The progress within this LAB150 program marks an important step on our path towards translating groundbreaking academic science into commercially available therapy options for patients who urgently need them. The ability to attract external follow-up funding for this project makes a strong case for efficient translation of academic projects through our BRIDGE model. We are glad to continue Evotec’s operational support in this endevour”, remarked Dr. Werner Lanthaler, CEO of Evotec.
TIAP is a leading provider of commercialization expertise, early-stage funding, and deal-brokering with industry and private investors in the health sciences domain. TIAP is a member-based organization made up of 14 member institutions – including the University of Toronto and affiliated teaching hospitals – with the mandate to drive the commercialization of their most promising research breakthroughs. TIAP’s active portfolio consists of both early-stage assets and more than 60 companies in sectors such as therapeutics, medical devices and digital health/AI. The companies have raised in excess of $500M from global investors and created more than 1000 direct jobs. For more information, please visit www.tiap.ca, follow us on Twitter @TIAPToronto or contact:
About Evotec SE
Evotec is a drug discovery alliance and development partnership company focused on rapidly progressing innovative product approaches with leading pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, academics, patient advocacy groups and venture capitalists. We operate worldwide and our more than 3,000 employees provide the highest quality stand-alone and integrated drug discovery and development solutions. We cover all activities from target-to-clinic to meet the industry’s need for innovation and efficiency in drug discovery and development (EVT Execute). The Company has established a unique position by assembling top-class scientific experts and integrating state-of-the-art technologies as well as substantial experience and expertise in key therapeutic areas including neuronal diseases, diabetes and complications of diabetes, pain and inflammation, oncology, infectious diseases, respiratory diseases, fibrosis, rare diseases and women’s health. On this basis, Evotec has built a broad and deep pipeline of approx. 100 co-owned product opportunities at clinical, pre-clinical and discovery stages (EVT Innovate). Evotec has established multiple long-term alliances with partners including Bayer, Boehringer Ingelheim, Bristol-Myers Squibb, CHDI, Novartis, Novo Nordisk, Pfizer, Sanofi, Takeda, UCB and others. For additional information please go to www.evotec.com and follow us on Twitter @Evotec or Contact
AmorChem (www.amorchem.com) is a leading early stage venture capital fund launched in 2011 in Montreal. The AmorChem team utilizes its deep understanding of fundamental science to uncover its therapeutic potential and focuses its core expertise in translational research to accelerate therapeutic drug discovery and development across a broad spectrum of disease areas. The fund capitalises on both its venture capital expertise and its entrepreneurial experience to spark the creation of start-up companies and help shape them into the next generation of biotech companies. With over $85M under management, AmorChem has financed over 30 university projects and started up several biotechnology companies from the fruits of this innovative research.
About Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute
The Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute, or LTRI, is one of the world’s top biomedical research institutes, powering scientific discovery for almost 35 years. It plays a critical part in bridging the gap between research and treatment. At its core, LTRI brings together creativity, curiosity and observation for the investigation of medicine’s most important questions, establishing Sinai Health as a top-tier academic leader. LTRI focuses on advancing our shared understanding of human biology. It explores how cells function in health and illness, leading to new and improved ways to prevent, diagnose and treat common illnesses.