Irish VC leads €27m fundraising for drug targeting hot flushes

Investment by Fountain Healthcare Partners to also target treatment for chronic coughing

NeRRe Therapeutics targets common conditions where there is currently unmet medical need using a pathway called neurokinin receptors. Photograph: Getty Images/iStockphoto

NeRRe Therapeutics targets common conditions where there is currently unmet medical need using a pathway called neurokinin receptors. Photograph: Getty Images/iStockphoto

 

Irish venture capital group Fountain Healthcare Partners has led a £23 million (€27 million) fundraising for a British drug development company that is targeting women’s health and respiratory conditions.

NeRRe Therapeutics was spun out of leading British pharma group GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) in late 2012.

It targets common conditions where there is currently unmet medical need using a pathway called neurokinin receptors.

The money will be used to take NeRRe’s two lead drug candidates through phase-two clinical trials. Its Orvepitant drug aims to help people control chronic coughing and temperature.

The other treatment is called NK-814, which hopes to offer relief to women and men suffering hot flushes either as a result of menopause or, for men, as a consequence of prostate cancer therapy.

Resistance to hormone therapy, which is the current treatment for flushes and other menopausal symptoms, has been increasing amid growing concern about side effects.

Oversubscribed

The fundraising, which was oversubscribed, is significant for Fountain in that it marks the life science venture capital group’s first European investment outside Ireland.

It had not previously invested in NeRRe. It was joined in the round by two other new investors – Forbion Capital Partners, which is based in Germany, and the Netherlands and US group OrbiMed. Both are specialist healthcare funders. Existing investors GSK, Novo A/S and Advent Life Sciences also participated. They had previously put £11.5 million into the company when it was spun out of GSK.

At present, only one treatment from the class of drugs being studied by NeRRe is approved for sale. That is Emend, a treatment for vomiting associated with cancer therapy.

NeRRe chief executive Dr Mary Kerr, who joined the company from GSK in September 2015, said she was delighted to have attracted such “high-profile” investors.

“Now that we are fully funded to execute the next phase of development, everyone at the company is focused on moving Orvepitant and NT-814 closer to the market for the alleviation of these common, chronic and debilitating conditions,” she said.

Fountain partner Dr Ena Prosser will join the NeRRe board along with Dr Geert-Jan Mulder from Forbion and Dr Iain Dukes of OrbiMed.