An Irish start-up drug development company that is targeting a series of inflammatory conditions has raised €40 million to fund clinical trials.
The money will fund a series of safety trials the company plans to run over the next tow years. It intends then to pursue one of a number of conditions that it feels best placed to affect.
It is the third largest venture capital funding in the biotech sector within Europe in 2018. The financing round was led by European life sciences venture capital group Forbion, with Longitude Capital from the US and founding investors, Novartis Venture Fund and Fountain Healthcare Partners, also participating.
Inflazome is targeting the NLRP3 inflammasome, a protein complex, that regulates immune response. It overactive, it is implicated in a wide range of serious medical conditions, including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, as well as inflammatory bowel disease, gout, osteoarthritis, liver, kidney and cardiovascular diseases.
Many are considered diseases of aging. Inflazome has developed inhibitors that it hopes will regulate NLRP3 and ease or even reverse some of these inflammatory conditions.
NLRP3 is considered a “hot target” in the world of drug development with four or five companies competing intensely to develop ways of regulating it.
Inflazome was founded by Trinity professor and immunology specialist Luke O'Neill and Prof Matt Copper, a University of Queensland chemist who has worked extensively in the areas of inflammation and superbugs.
The company has filed 29 patents filed and a long-list of targets that contains 54 different conditions. Prof Cooper serves as chief executive of the company while Prof O’Neill is chief scientific officer.
The company raised €15 million in seed funding when it was founded in 2016. Since then it has been working on developing is therapy at labs in Cambridge in the UK and in Australia.
Following the completion of the financing round, Dr Marco Boorsma, a partner at Forbion, and Dr David Hirsch, a managing director and Founder of Longitude Capital, have joined Inflazome's board.
“We intensively screened the universe of companies active in this space,” said Dr Boorsma. “We decided to back Inflazome because of their leading position, deep understanding of inflammasome biology, foundational IP position and advanced and diversified pipeline of NLRP3 modulators.”
"The market potential for a successful small molecule inhibitor of NLRP3 is clearly very significant," said Inflazome chairman, Dr Manus Rogan, the co-founder and managing partner of Fountain Healthcare Partners.