Kandy Therapeutics raises £25m for menopause drug

Irish healthcare venture capital group Fountain among backers of HRT alternative

Kandy Therapeutics is  set to advance trials on a drug it believes could help women deal with hot flushes and night-time sweats linked to menopause. Photograph: PA Wire

Kandy Therapeutics is set to advance trials on a drug it believes could help women deal with hot flushes and night-time sweats linked to menopause. Photograph: PA Wire

 

Women’s healthcare group Kandy Therapeutics has raised £25 million (€27.50 million) to advance trials on a product it believes could help millions of women deal with hot flushes and night-time sweats associated with the menopause.

Irish healthcare venture capital group Fountain Healthcare Partners is among the investors in the latest funding round.

Kandy is working to develop a non-hormone-based therapy to treat moderate to severe post-menopausal symptoms. The company believes its NT-814 drug has the potential to treat several debilitating conditions related to the menopause by adjusting modulate dysfunctional temperature control and reproductive hormone pathways in the central nervous system.

The drug is taken orally once a day.

In June, Kandy reported the successful outcome of a proof of concept study on the drug. The study of 76 patients showed that, within a week, it cut the frequency of hot flushes and night sweats by 62 per cent compared to 24 per cent with a placebo. After a second week, the reduction for the NT-814 group was 84 per cent against 27 per cent for the placebo.

Richard Anderson, who is Kandy’s clinical adviser and professor of reproductive science at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, said the results put the drug’s efficacy on a par with historical data with hormone replacement therapy (HRT) but with a much quicker onset, as HRT can take “weeks or months” to kick in.

Optimum dosage

A second, larger Phase 2b study on the drug to establish its optimum dosage in is due to start enrolling patients in the US, Canada and Britain in the coming months with results expected next year.

Resistance to hormone therapy, which is the current treatment for flushes and other menopausal symptoms, has been increasing amid concern about side effects, including heart disease, stroke, breast cancer and blood clots.

Kandy was earlier this year reported to be a prospective target for Irish-domiciled drug giant Allergan. At the time, it was said that any deal could value the business at $400 million (€341 million).

Kandy Therapeutics was spun out of Nerre Therapeutics in 2017. Nerre, which targets common conditions where there is currently unmet medical need using a pathway called neurokinin receptors, was itself spun out of British drug giant GlaxoSmithKline in late 2012.

Lead investor

Fountain originally invested in Nerre in early 2017, when it was lead investor in a €23 million fundraising. At the time, it was the Irish group’s first European investment outside Ireland.

The company is joined in the latest rounding of funding for Kandy by a new US investor, Longitude Capital, as well as German group Forbion Capital Partners and OrbiMed from the US, which first invested in 2017, and Advent Life Sciences, an early-stage investor in the company.

Managing director Dr Mary Kerr said the company was delighted by the level of enthusiasm and financial support it had received from investors “and would like to welcome Longitude Capital into the syndicate and the board of directors”.

“Our investors and the Kandy management team are united by the common belief that NT-814 has the potential to be a transformational treatment for the millions of women worldwide who suffer debilitating symptoms of the menopause.”