Innsbruck-based ugichem has raised 2,25 million euros in funding for developing their antisense drug platform, the biotech company announced recently. A grant of 850.000 euros by Austria’s Research Promotion Agency (FFG), supplemented by 1,4 million euros in equity financing from existing investors, will go towards developing a pipeline of antisense drugs, which will focus on medical needs that had not been met yet.
CEO Dr. Holger Bock told inventures.eu that the investment came from Germany and Switzerland, yet he did not disclose any names or information on the size of the shares. He did say, though, that the investors expect to start getting their money back in 2017. For a list of ugichem’s already existing investors go here, and for some details about the company’s structure, go here.
The ugichem story
Ugichem’s story began with a team of scientists from the lab of Munich Professor Ivar Ugi, a world-leading expert in combinatorial chemistry. Despite starting out by working on the development of antibiotics, the ugichem chemistry showed potential for the development of a platform for antisense drugs.
Ugimers, an innovative therapeutic antisense product platform, became the sole focus of the team of researchers who moved to Innsbruck to pursue the opportunity. The team of five brings together two chemists and three molecular biologists with vast experience in their fields. Their work and Ugimers have already been patented four times.
Antisense technology represents a potential magic bullet for treating numerous diseases, such as cancer, different types of inflammation, viral infections and other neurological and metabolic disorders that are caused by the unnatural behaviour of a body’s proteins. (An academic review of the main concepts and mechanisms is available here). Traditional therapies are able to inhibit and limit the damage that these excess proteins have on the body, while antisense drugs, on the other hand, interfere at an early stage by preventing the body from producing this surplus of “bad” proteins in the first place.
In practice however, it’s not that easy to turn technology into usable therapy. Because of the fundamental chemical structure of these antisense drugs, they cannot by nature penetrate cells, and thus have a hard time reaching the disease tissues that they target. For this reason, antisense therapy is currently very limited and restricted to disorders where the drug can be administered locally.
Dr. Holger Block is the engine that keeps the company together. Chemist, CEO and founder, he is the link between investors, management and shareholders. “During the past two years we have generated significant evidence to support our unique antisense platform. Ugimers enable the utilisation of the powerful antisense mechanism to modulate previously ‘undruggable’ targets in inflammation. The additional funding will be used to further build on the therapeutic value of Ugimers and will allow us to identify lead candidates in acute and chronic inflammation,” said Bock.
Previously, ugichem was supported by the Center for Academic Spin-offs Tyrol (CAST).
in partnership with CAST Tyrol