Novartis Venture Fund
INVESTING in innovative life science companies for PATIENT BENEFIT, creating attractive returns for entrepreneurs and investors.
Our primary focus is on the development of novel therapeutics and platforms. In our investments we look for unmet need and clinical impact, novel proprietary science and understanding of mechanism, management and board experience and capital efficiency in the program.
We invest in North America, Europe, Israel and Asia/Pacific and manage over USD 1 billion in committed capital and more than 40 portfolio companies. We continue our strategy of making larger focused investments and anticipate total investments up to USD 30 million per company over its life.
We make equity investments in life sciences companies across Biotechnology/Biopharma, Medical Devices and Diagnostics. NVF is stage agnostic and engages in seed investments as well as later-stage investments. We typically lead or co-lead an investment and play an active role on company boards.
number of jobs created
dollars under management > $1 billion
Phase 1 and 2 clinical programs
The Novartis Venture Fund has investments across various therapeutic areas. We seek companies that are truly innovative, have the potential to offer significant patient benefit, have excellent management and are capital-efficient.
In total, our current portfolio companies have 18 clinical programs in Phase 1 or Phase 2.
|Autoimmune, Immunology, Transplantation|
|5 3 3|
|4 1 2|
|3 1 1|
|12 2 3|
|Pre-Clinical Phase I Phase II|
Physicians use a combination of technologies to produce the best clinical outcome. The challenges and opportunities in healthcare are multi-factorial. Our fund looks broadly to invest in all types of healthcare innovation that will to serve clinical need. The Novartis Venture Fund has invested in medical technologies and diagnostics since its inception in 1996. Our device investments are led by Steven Weinstein in our Cambridge office. We currently have targeted 20% of our fund to medical device, diagnostics and other healthcare-related information technology opportunities.
Our definition of medical technologies is broad. The NVF seeks opportunities that can change the practice of medicine, produce meaningful patient benefit, or reduce costs of medical care. We look for underserved indications, or where a company’s technology enables a new treatment paradigm. In today’s more cost-conscious healthcare environment, we also look for companies whose technologies allow the healthcare system to reduce overall cost while maintaining or improving outcomes. Our investment strategy is stage agnostic (seed to growth capital) and we are happy to lead an investment, and invest globally.
Advanced Animal Diagnostics, Inc.:
On-farm diagnostics platform to detect disease states and optimize overall health status of production animals.
Atlas Genetics, Ltd.:
Molecular diagnostic system for the ultra-rapid diagnosis of a broad range of infectious diseases.
Autonomic Technologies, Inc.:
Implantable neurostimulation device for severe headaches such as cluster headaches and migraines.
BioNano Genomics, Inc.:
Genome mapping platform using nanochannel technology to visualize whole genomes of any organism, including humans.
Computational solutions for drug discovery and systems biology research.
Intersection Medical, Inc.:
Monitoring device to manage patients in acute decompensated heart failure.
Trans-apical and trans-femoral cardiac valve replacement.
Dr Reinhard J. Ambros is the President of NVF, in Basel, Switzerland. Previously, he was Managing Director of the Novartis BioVenture Fund in the USA. He also worked with Novartis Corporate Finance where he held the position of Head of Group Strategic Planning for several years. He was responsible for post-merger integrations at Novartis Corporate M&A and was Global Head Business Development & Licensing for cardiovascular and metabolic diseases at Novartis Pharmaceuticals. Earlier in his career he held global leadership positions for key drug development projects at Novartis and Roche. He trained as a pharmacist, has a PhD in medicinal chemistry and pharmacology and focused postdoctoral training in clinical pharmacology. Reinhard serves on the boards of Aerpio, Aileron, Forma, Genedata and Symetis.
Aileron Therapeutics, Inc. (Board Seat) Forma Therapeutics, LLC. (Board Seat) Genedata AG (Board Seat) Symetis AG (Board Seat) Aerpio Therapeutics, Inc. (Board Seat)
EsbaTech AG (Acquired by Alcon) Idenix Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ: IDIX) Pharmasset, Inc. (Acquired by Gilead Sciences) Swiss Pharma Contract (Acquired by Covance) Tokai Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ: TKAI)
Dr. Christine Brennan is a Principal in Cambridge, MA, USA. Prior to joining NVF, she was Chief Business Officer at Vitae Pharmaceuticals. Previously, she was Executive Director and Head of Strategy & Operations in Strategic Alliances with Novartis Institutes of Biomedical Research. Prior to this, she held positions in biotechnology and mid-size pharma companies in business development and marketing at EnVivo Pharmaceuticals, Biovail Corp. and Cogent Neurosciences and was a Director at the venture capital company Fidelity Biosciences Group. She received her PhD in neuroscience from Dartmouth Medical School and completed a postdoctoral fellowship in developmental neurobiology at the National Institutes of Health.
Bart Dzikowski is the Head of Legal for NVF in Basel, Switzerland. During his time with Novartis, he has served as the Head of Corporate Legal M&A (a.i.) and as Senior Business Development & Licensing/M&A Counsel. Before joining Novartis in 2009, Bart was Vice President with the Investment Banking Division of Bank of America/Merrill Lynch in New York and, before that, he was an associate with the Corporate/M&A Group at the law firm of Allen & Overy LLP in New York. Bart holds degrees in common law (LL.B.) and civil law (B.C.L.) from McGill Law School in Canada and is a member of the New York State Bar.
Giovanni Ferrara is a Venture Partner in Cambridge, MA, USA. Prior to joining NVF, he was a consultant to leading west coast venture capital firms and portfolio companies. Most recently, Giovanni was consulting Chief Business Officer to Sorbent Therapeutics. Previously, he was Managing Director and General Partner at Burrill & Company and began his venture capital career at GeneChem Management, where in addition to investing, he held operating positions in portfolio companies, including CEO of Targanta Therapeutics (then PhageTech, Inc.). He began his career in healthcare as a pharmacist at a cancer treatment center researching experimental therapies. He received his MBA and MSc from McGill University. Giovanni serves on the board of Thesan Pharmaceuticals.
Thesan Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (Board Seat)
Dr. Markus Goebel is a Managing Director in Basel, Switzerland. Prior to joining NVF, he worked as Head Novartis Pharmaceutical Corporate M&A and Head Nervous System Business Development & Licensing. A physician by training and certified, amongst others, in hematology/oncology, Markus worked for Farmitalia Germany and later held several positions in R&D, Marketing and Strategy at Roche headquarters before joining Novartis. Markus received an MD and a PhD from the Ludwig Maximilian’s University in Munich and an MBA from Henley. Markus serves on the boards of eFFECTOR, Merganser Biotech, Ra Pharmaceuticals and Trellis RSV Holdings.
eFFECTOR Therapeutics, Inc. (Board Seat) Merganser Biotech, Inc. Ra Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (Board Seat) Trellis RSV Holdings, Inc. (Board Seat)
Acorda Therapeutics, Inc. (NASDAQ: ACOR) EraGen Biosciences, Inc. (Acquired by Luminex Corporation) FoldRx Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (Acquired by Pfizer) Intellikine, Inc. (Acquired by Takeda) LigoCyte Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (Acquired by Takeda) Sirtris Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (Acquired by GlaxoSmithKline) Xenoport, Inc. (NASDAQ: XNPT)
Florent Gros is a Managing Director in Basel, Switzerland. Prior to joining NVF, he worked in various global leadership positions in intellectual property and transaction matters at Nestlé, Pasteur Merieux Connaught (Sanofi Pasteur) and Novartis, in Europe and North America. Florent is a Kaufmann Fellow (2012) and holds a Biotechnology Engineering Masters Degree from France, and did his diploma thesis on vaccines at GSK in Belgium. He also holds European and French patent lawyer degrees and a Masters in Private Law. Florent serves on the boards of AIT, Atlas Genetics, Gensight Biologics, Immune Targeting Systems, Merus, MyoPowers, Opsona, Altimmune and Anokion SA.
Altimmune, Inc. (Board Seat) Anokion SA (Board Seat) Applied Immune Technologies, Ltd. (Board Seat) Atlas Genetics, Ltd (Board Seat) Gensight Biologics (Board Seat) Merus Biopharmaceuticals BV (Board Seat) MyoPower Medical Technologies SA (Board Seat) Opsona, Ltd (Board Seat)
Evolva AG (SIX Swiss Exchange: EVE) Neovacs SA (Alternext Paris: ALNEV) Okairos AG (Acquired by GlaxoSmithKline) Cellerix BV (Merger with Tigenix BV, NYSE Euronext: TIG)
Dr. Anja König is a Managing Director in Basel, Switzerland. She is active in the UK, Switzerland and the rest of Europe. Prior to joining NVF, she was an Associate Partner at McKinsey and Company in New York, a global consultancy, where she worked with healthcare companies in the US, Europe and Emerging Markets. Anja holds a PhD in physics from Cornell University. She serves on the boards of Bicycle Therapeutics, F2G and Forendo Pharma.
Bicycle Therapeutics, Ltd. (Board Seat) F2G, Ltd. (Board Seat) Forendo Pharma, Ltd. (Board Seat)
Covagen AG (Acquired by J&J) Heptares Therapeutics, Ltd (Acquired by Sosei)
Dr. Campbell Murray is a Managing Director in Cambridge, MA, USA. Prior to joining NVF, he worked at the Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research as the Director of Special Projects. Campbell is a New Zealand-trained physician and worked as a Medical House Officer at Auckland Hospital. He is a Kauffman Fellow and holds an MBA from Harvard Business School and an MPP (public policy) from the John F. Kennedy School of Government, where he was a Knox Fellow and Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar. Campbell serves on the boards of Aerpio, Annexon, BioNano Genomics, Galera, ImaginAb and Neurovance.
Aerpio Therapeutics, Inc. (Board Seat) Annexon, Inc. (Board Seat) BioNano Genomics, Inc. (Board Seat) Galera Therapeutics, Inc. (Board Seat) ImaginAb, Inc. (Board Seat) Neurovance, Inc. (Board Seat)
Akebia Therapeutics, Inc. (NASDAQ: AKBA) Alios BioPharma, Inc. (Acquired by J&J) Tokai Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ: TKAI)
Dr. Henry Skinner is a Managing Director in Cambridge, MA, USA. Prior to joining NVF, he worked as Executive Director & Global Head Strategic Alliances at the Novartis Institutes for Biomedical Research where he led a team responsible for identification, negotiation and management of collaborations and licenses for Novartis’ therapeutic technology areas. Prior to joining Novartis he was CEO of SelectX Pharmaceuticals and President and CEO of NeoGenesis Pharmaceuticals, which was acquired by Schering-Plough. He was Director of Technology Acquisitions for Pharmacia & Upjohn and managed business development and licensing for research platforms and therapeutic areas worldwide. Prior to Pharmacia, he was Director of Business Development at Lexicon Genetics. He was a postdoctoral fellow at Baylor College of Medicine and earned his PhD in Microbiology and MS in Biochemistry from the University of Illinois. Henry serves on the boards of Aeglea, AMP Therapeutics, Galera, Macrolide Pharmaceuticals, Proteostasis and Quartet Medicine.
Aeglea Biotherapeutics, Inc. (Board Seat) AMP Therapeutics GmbH (Board Seat) Galera Therapeutics, Inc. (Board Seat) Macrolide Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (Board Seat) Proteostasis Therapeutics, Inc. (Board Seat) Quartet Medicine, Inc. (Board Seat)
Adenosine Therapeutics, Inc. (Acquired by Clinical Data) Avila Therapeutics, Inc. (Acquired by Celgene)
Steven D. Weinstein is a Managing Director in Cambridge, MA, USA. Steve focuses on both medical device and therapeutic investments for the fund. Prior to joining NVF, he was a Principal at Prism Venture Partners where he focused on medical devices. Prior to Prism, Steve was a Principal and Kauffman Fellow with Mid-Atlantic Venture Funds. He started his career as turnaround CEO, raising angel funds to buy the assets of a defunct distribution business out of bankruptcy and subsequently rebuilding the business. Steve holds an MBA with distinction from the University of Michigan Business School and a B.S. in mechanical engineering from Columbia University’s School of Engineering and Applied Science. He serves on the Partner’s Healthcare Innovation Advisory Board and the University of Michigan Wolverine Venture Fund Advisory Board. Steve serves on the boards of Advanced Animal Diagnostics, Autonomic Technologies, Innocrin, Intersection Medical and Viamet.
Advanced Animal Diagnostics, Inc. (Board Seat) Autonomic Technologies, Inc. (Board Seat) Innocrin Pharmaceuticals Holdings, LLC (Board Seat) Intersection Medical, Inc. (Board Seat) Viamet Pharmaceuticals Holdings, LLC (Board Seat)
Ablation Frontiers, Inc. (Acquired by Medtronic) Visiogen, Inc. (Acquired by Abbott)
Dr. Reza Zadno is an Innovation Advisor to Novartis Venture Fund (NVF) located in San Francisco, CA, USA. Reza is a serial entrepreneur focused on sourcing new investments particularly in the area of medical devices. Reza was the founder, President and CEO of Visiogen (a former NVF-portfolio company acquired by Abbott-Medical Optics) and co-founder of PercuSurge (acquired by Medtronic). Reza is also currently Executive in Residence at InterWest Partners. Prior to joining InterWest in 2012, Reza was a Venture Partner at New Leaf Venture Partners and, previously, an Entrepreneur in Residence at Three Arch Partners. Earlier in his career, he was with Cardiac Pathways (acquired by Boston Scientific) and with Raychem Corporation, now Tyco. Reza holds a Ph.D. from Ecole des Mines de Paris and has filed more than 100 U.S. patents. He serves on the boards of the following non-NVF companies, Carbylan, Gobiquity, Invuity, On Demand Therapeutics and Oraya Therapeutics.
President of the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) and Professor of Neurosciences. Member of the Board of Lonza and the Nestlé Health Science Company.
Professor School of Life Sciences, Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL); former Director of the Swiss Institute for Experimental Cancer Research (ISREC); Director of the National Center of Competence in Research (NCCR) in Molecular Oncology.
Chairman, Novartis Institute for Tropical Diseases.
Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of Novartis and member of the Executive Committee of Novartis (ECN).
Nobel Prize Winner for Chemistry, Collège de France, Paris, Université Louis Pasteur, Strasbourg, France.
Director of Research, Institut Curie, Paris, France.
Chief, Department of Internal Medicine and Specialties, Triemli Hospital Zurich, and Associate Professor, Medical Faculty, University of Geneva.
General Partner at Advent Venture Partners, London, UK.
Professor of Biology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Member, Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research.
Dr. Beat Steffen is a Principal in Basel, Switzerland. Prior to joining Novartis Venture Fund, he worked at Novartis Pharmaceuticals in commercial roles in the US and in Switzerland launching several products mainly in the cardiovascular area. Beat joined Novartis from Wellington Partners Venture Capital where he worked with biotech and medical device startup companies. Prior to that, he was at McKinsey & Company in Zurich working with clients in the pharmaceutical industry. Beat is a Swiss-trained physician having focused in cardiovascular surgery and intensive care. He graduated from the University of Zurich Medical School and qualified as a Medical Doctor in Basel. Beat holds an MBA with distinction from INSEAD.
Advanced Animal Diagnostics is an animal health diagnostics company, developing highly accurate, rapid on-farm diagnostics. The QScout® line of on-farm diagnostics will detect disease states at an early stage and optimize management of the reproductive, nutritional and overall health status of production animals, beginning with the dairy cow. The company’s platform diagnostic technology is designed to enhance the profitability of livestock production, improve animal welfare, and ensure a safe, abundant supply of animal protein.
Aeglea is developing recombinant engineered human enzyme therapies to treat a number of cancer indications such as hepatocellular carcinoma, pancreatic adenocarcinoma, mesothelioma and melanoma. Aeglea’s portfolio of products includes engineered enzymes for the degradation of Arginine, Methionine, Cysteine and Cystine. Each of Aeglea’s products is coupled with a set of predictive biomarkers as part of an overall strategy to drive increased efficacy and patient benefit in a variety of oncology indications with significant unmet clinical needs.
Aerpio is developing novel small molecule therapies to treat ophthalmic vascular diseases such as diabetic macular edema. Aerpio’s portfolio includes a broad array of HPTPbeta inhibitors that specifically restore signaling through the TIE2 pathway to promote vascular stabilization, improved endothelial function and reduced inflammation.
Aileron is a clinical stage biopharmaceutical company that is developing first-in-class therapeutics based on its proprietary Stapled Peptide drug platform. Aileron aims to dramatically improve the treatment of a wide range of diseases, including cancer and metabolic and endocrine conditions, and positively impact the lives of millions of patients. Aileron’s lead drug development programs are its p53 reactivator for the treatment of cancer, ALRN-6924, and ALRN-5281, a long-acting, growth hormone releasing factor (GRF) for adult growth hormone deficiency that completed a Phase 1 clinical trial in 2013.
AMP was founded in 2009 as a spin-out from Prof. Ralf Hoffmann’s laboratory at the University of Leipzig. AMP is developing the next generation of broad-spectrum Gram-negative antibiotics for the treatment of drug-resistant infections. It has been estimated that approximately 30-40% of all hospital-acquired (nosocomial) infections worldwide are caused by Gram-negative bacteria. Gram-negative pathogens are highly genetically flexible and thus develop resistance mechanisms that render most of the current therapies ineffective.
Anokion is developing targeted therapeutics by retraining white blood cells to induce therapeutic antigen-specific immune tolerance. Their technology uses the body’s natural immune regulation by engineering proteins to be perceived as "self" entities to treat autoimmune and allergic diseases and to reduce the immunogenicity of therapeutic proteins.
Applied Immune Technologies (AIT) is a drug development company specializing in T-Cell Receptor-Like (TCRL) antibodies that are targeted to intracellular-derived peptides, which are not always accessible by conventional antibodies, for a variety of therapeutic and diagnostic applications. AIT is also focused on identification and validation of novel therapeutic targets for TCRL antibodies.
Atlas is developing the io® platform, a highly novel molecular diagnostic system for the ultra-rapid diagnosis of a broad range of infectious diseases using either nucleic acid or immunoassays. The system is fast, ultra-sensitive and designed for use in decentralized laboratories, point-of-care and other near-patient settings, providing a laboratory accurate test result in about 30 minutes.
Autonomic Technologies is developing a miniaturized implantable neurostimulation device to provide rapid relief from the debilitating pain and suffering caused by severe headaches such as cluster headaches and migraines.
Bicycle has a platform technology to create biotherapeutics combining features of small molecules and biopharmaceuticals. Bicycle Therapeutics is a spin-out from the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology based on the work of the founding scientists Sir Gregory Winter and Prof. Christian Heinis.
BioNano has developed the Irys genome mapping platform using nanochannel technology to visualize whole genomes of any organism, including humans. By capturing extremely long DNA molecules at high resolution (hundreds of kilobases vs. single nucleotides), Irys delivers genome maps that provide novel insight into structural variations, such as translocations, amplifications and deletions, that underlies phenotypic variation. The Irys platform can reveal relevant mutations in complex genomes filling the gap between the available cytogenetics and next-generation sequencing/microarray technologies to further advance genome research.
eFFECTOR is pioneering a new class of small molecule drugs that act by selectively regulating translation (protein synthesis). The company unites novel insights into the mechanisms of translational control with a proven approach to product invention. eFFECTOR is pursuing selective translation regulators to restore homeostasis to the translation landscape, thereby reversing the consequences of disregulation and offering treatment for a variety of serious conditions.
Euthymics is a clinical stage, biotherapeutic company that is focused on developing therapeutics that help patients achieve euthymia, which means "mood in the normal range". The company’s lead compound, amitifadine, is in clinical development for alcohol abuse and depression
F2G is a UK biotechnology company focused on the discovery and development of novel drugs to treat life threatening fungal diseases. F2G is advancing its F3 series of anti-mold compounds. This is a novel class of anti-fungal agent, which acts through a completely new mechanism different from all currently marketed drugs. The F3 series displays highly potent activity against clinically relevant aspergilli and many other important pathogenic molds.
Forendo is a drug discovery and development company with core competence in tissue specific regulation of sex hormone effects. Its two first-in-class product candidates are in preclinical development with the potential to offer significant therapeutic benefits in men’s and women’s health.
Forma targets essential cancer pathways to create small molecule cancer therapies. Forma leverages the integration of its innovative drug discovery technologies and oncology expertise, enabling efficient screening, discovery and rational development of drug candidates with qualified cellular mechanisms of action. Forma is building a robust pipeline of cancer therapies in areas such as tumor metabolism, proteinprotein interactions and epigenetics.
Galera is a clinical stage drug development company with a portfolio of small molecule superoxide dismutase activators. Superoxide, a product of normal cellular oxygen metabolism and certain environmental stresses, is harmful to DNA, RNA, proteins and lipids. This highly reactive molecule is managed by superoxide dismutases (SODs), but the SOD enzyme is deficient in certain disease states. Galera’s technology replaces this loss of function. The company is initially focusing on radiation-induced mucositis, cancer and pulmonary fibrosis.
Genedata provides computational solutions for drug discovery and systems biology research with a combination of software products and professional services that have been developed in partnership with major pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies.
GenSight Biologics is focused on the development of gene therapies in ophthalmic diseases to prevent retinal degeneration in selected pathological conditions and to restore vision in patients suffering from very low vision or blindness.
ImaginAb has a proprietary antibody fragment platform that yields molecular information to guide treatment decisions in cancer and immunology by in vivo imaging. ImaginAb also collaborates with biopharmaceutical partners to design imaging agents as companion diagnostics for therapeutic antibodies.
Innocrin is a clinical stage pharmaceutical company developing novel, “best-in-class” oral, CYP17 lyase inhibitors for the treatment of castration-resistant prostate cancer (CRPC) and potentially other hormonally-driven conditions such as breast cancer, endometriosis, or congenital adrenal hyperplasia.
Intersection is developing a device to help monitor and manage patients in acute decompensated heart failure. A large and growing cost driver for healthcare systems, acute decompensated heart failure and related hospital re-admissions is a growing area of focus globally. Intersection looks to improve patient outcomes, inform the treatment paradigm, and reduce costs for healthcare systems.
Merganser Biotech is developing new medicines that increase hepcidin activity for the treatment of rare hematological and iron overload diseases. Hepcidin is the master regulator of iron metabolism and controls iron absorption from the diet and iron transfer around the body. Hepcidin deficiency causes iron overload, leading to heart and liver damage and may contribute to the severity of ineffective erythropoiesis and anemia in beta thalassemia. Merganser's hepcidin mimetic peptides prevent iron accumulation and reduce the severity of ineffective erythropoiesis in preclinical models of beta thalassemia.
Macrolide is an anti-infective company founded to advance new technology developed by Professor Andrew Myers at Harvard University. Current macrolide antibiotics, such as erythromycin and azithromycin, are less effective due to increase bacterial resistance. Macrolide’s technology enables the total synthesis of virtually any macrolide providing novel next generation macrolide antibiotics.
Merus leverages its proprietary antibody platform to generate full-length bi-specific IgG antibodies (Biclonics®) for oncology. The technology platform leverages fixed VL chains to produce functional monoclonal and bi-specific antibodies in a single cell. Merus has also developed an innovative transgenic mice platform (MeMo®) and state-of-the-art phage display libraries of human Fab fragments to generate panels of common light chain antibodies.
MyoPowers is developing a class III medical implant for the treatment of severe urinary incontinence in males and females, one of the largest under developed therapeutic areas today. MyoPowers aims to enter into CE-enabling clinical studies in the near-term.
Nabriva is a specialist antibiotic company with a pipeline of innovative antibacterials for the treatment of serious infections in humans caused by multi-drug resistant pathogens.
Neomics is a drug discovery and diagnostics company with a unique cancer target and biomarker discovery platform. In particular, Neomics is focused on novel targets and biomarkers relevant to aminoacyl RNA synthetases (ARS). They have preclinical and clinical validation of their targets and biomarkers.
Neurovance is a biopharmaceutical company developing treatments for central nervous system (CNS) disorders. Neurovance’s clinical stage EB-1020 for adult attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a norepinephrine and dopaminepreferring triple reuptake inhibitor that is expected to be effective for adult ADHD without the addiction potential of other ADHD drugs.
Opsona is a drug development company focused on novel therapeutic and preventative approaches to inflammatory and related diseases. Opsona has a pipeline of therapeutics in advanced preclinical development that modulates the innate immune system, including biologics and small molecules that target TLR-2 and Nalp-3. Opsona has started Phase 2b clinical studies with the TLR-2 monoclonal antibody to prevent delayed graft function in kidney transplant.
PharmAbcine develops fully human therapeutic monoclonal antibodies for the treatment of cancer and inflammatory diseases. PharmAbcine is a spin-out from Korea Research Institute of Bioscience & Biotechnology (KRIBB).
Proteostasis develops novel, small molecule therapeutics designed to control the body’s protein homeostasis, or Proteostasis Network. These therapeutics are designed to treat multiple genetic and degenerative disorders such as Parkinson’s and cystic fibrosis.
Quartet is discovering and developing novel treatments for chronic pain and inflammation. Human genetics and preclinical target validation data point to increased tetrahydrobiopterin (BH4) as a critical mediator of peripheral nerve dysfunction and immune cell regulation. Quartet is capitalizing on these insights by safely restoring BH4 homeostasis in neuronal and inflammatory cells.
Qurient is a spin-off biotechnology company from Institut Pasteur Korea (IP-K) committed to developing novel therapeutics against infectious diseases. Qurient’s main focus is on HIV, HCV and TB infection. Qurient has exclusive rights to develop and commercialize drug candidates discovered with IP-K’s proprietary state-of-the-art technologies including the PhenomicScreen™ and PhenomicID™ platforms.
Ra uses proprietary combinatorial assembly and in vitro display technologies to discover macrocyclic compounds with enhanced bioavailability targeting a wide range of intracellular, cell-surface, and circulating proteins. Ra’s initial focus is on orally available replacements for a variety of marketed biologics, as well as drugs targeting intracellular protein-protein interactions.
Symetis is successfully marketing a transapical catheter-mediated delivery system for the beating heart to insert stented mechanical valves for application in cardiac valve replacement.
Thesan is developing innovative therapeutics for dermatological applications. The company is currently developing topical applications of novel chemical entities against novel targets for atopic dermatitis and acne.
Trellis is leveraging its proprietary CellSpotTM technology to deliver higher quality therapeutic monoclonal antibodies. The company has programs in infectious disease.
Altimmune is a clinical stage immunotherapeutic biotechnology company focused on the discovery and development of novel products that engage, stimulate and improve immune responses for the prevention and treatment of disease. By leveraging the complementary attributes of its two innovative vaccine delivery platforms, RespirVec™ and Densigen™, Altimmune is able to rationally design and rapidly develop immunotherapeutic products tailored to address the a wide range of disease indications including acute respiratory infections, chronic viral infections and cancer with fundamental advantages over competing products.
Viamet is a clinical stage biotechnology company that discovers and develops “best-in-class” small molecule inhibitors of validated metalloenzymes via an innovative metal binding approach, its proprietary Metallophile® Technology. The company develops traditional small molecule compounds that exploit validated metalloenzyme targets in the field of infectious disease.
Annexon is developing disease modifying therapeutics to protect neuronal connections (synapses) that are lost in nearly all forms of neurodegenerative disease. Annexon’s platform is focused on inhibiting C1q as the initiating molecule of the complement cascade responsible for aberrantly binding to functional synapses and triggering their elimination in neurodegenerative diseases. This pathway is also well known to contribute to pathology in a number of autoimmune diseases of the nervous system. Annexon’s lead molecule, ANX005, effectively blocks this pathway and will have broad therapeutic application in both acute and chronic neurological diseases. Annexon’s initial focus will be in acute peripheral immune-mediated disorders.
Akebia Therapeutics completed a public offering (NASDAQ: AKBA) in 2014.
Alios BioPharma was acquired by Johnson & Johnson in 2014.
Celladon completed a public offering (NASDAQ: CLDN) in 2014.
Covagen was acquired by Cilag CmbH, an affiliate of the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson, in 2014.
Tokai Pharmaceuticals completed a public offering (NASDAQ: TKAI) in 2014.
Okairos was acquired by GlaxoSmithKline in 2013.
Avila Therapeutics was acquired by Celgene Corp. in 2012.
Intellikine was acquired by Takeda Pharmaceutical Company Ltd. in 2012.
LigoCyte Pharmaceuticals was acquired by Takeda Pharmaceutical Company Ltd. In 2012.
Pharmasset was acquired by Gilead Sciences in 2012.
Cellerix completed a reverse merger into listed Tigenix BV (NYSE: TIG) in 2011.
EraGen Biosciences was acquired by Luminex Corporation in 2011.
Cequent Pharmaceuticals was acquired by MDRNA (now Marina Biotech) in 2010.
Evolva Holding completed a reverse merger into listed Arpida AG (SIX: EVE) in 2010.
FoldRx Pharmaceuticals was acquired by Pfizer, Inc. in 2010.
Neovacs completed a public offering (Alternext Paris: ALNEV) in 2010.
Ablation Frontiers was acquired by Medtronic, Inc. in 2009.
EsbaTech was acquired by Alcon in 2009.
Swiss Pharma Contract was acquired by Covance, Inc. in 2009.
Visiogen was acquired by Abbott Laboratories in 2009.
Adenosine Therapeutics was acquired by Clinical Data, Inc. in 2008.
Sirtris Pharmaceuticals completed a public offering (NASDAQ: SIRT) in 2007 and was acquired by GlaxoSmithKline in 2008.
Speedel Holding completed a public offering (SWX: SPPN) in 2005 and was acquired by Novartis in 2008.
Acorda Therapeutics completed a public offering (NASDAQ: ACOR) in 2006.
Infinity Pharmaceuticals completed a reverse merger into Discovery Partners, Inc. (NASDAQ: INFI) in 2006.
KuDOS Pharmaceuticals was acquired by AstraZeneca in 2006.
Heptares Therapeutics, Ltd was acquired by Sosei Group Corporation in 2015.
Miikana Therapeutics was acquired by EntreMed, Inc. (now CASI Pharmaceuticals, Inc.) in 2006.
Syrxx was acquired by Takeda Pharmaceutical Company Ltd. In 2006.
Torrey Pines Therapeutics completed a reverse merger into Axonyx (NASDAQ: TPTX) in 2006.
CombinatorRx completed a public offering (NASDAQ: CRXX) in 2005.
GlycArt Biotechnology was acquired by F. Hoffmann-La Roche Ltd. In 2005.
Silence Therapeutics completed a public offering (LON: SLN) in 2005.
Transform Pharmaceuticals was acquired by Johnson & Johnson in 2005.
Xenoport completed a public offering (NASDAQ: XNPT) in 2005.
Eyetech Pharmaceuticals completed a public offering (NASDAQ: EYET) in 2004.
Idenix Pharmaceuticals completed a public offering (NASDAQ: IDIX) in 2004.
Kinetix Pharmaceuticals was acquired by Amgen in 2004.
Theravance completed a public offering (NASDAQ: THRX) in 2004.
Cytos Biotechnology completed a public offering (SWX: CYTN) in 2002.
IsoTis OrthoBiologics completed a public offering (SWX: ISON) in 2000.
Discovery Technologies was acquired by Discovery Partners in 1999.
Tokyo, Japan and London, UK – 23 February 2015: Sosei Group Corporation (the “Group” or “Sosei” - 4565, Tokyo Stock Exchange MOTHERS index), a leading Japanese biopharmaceutical company with operations in Japan and the UK, announces that it has acquired Heptares Therapeutics Limited (“Heptares”), a clinical-stage private UK-based biotechnology company focused on creating novel medicines targeting G protein-coupled receptors (“GPCRs”).
The combination will create a leading global biopharmaceutical group with:
These strengths will enable the Group to sustain its pipeline and revenue stream on a long-term basis. Heptares will become a wholly owned subsidiary of the Group, with its existing R&D operations continuing in the UK.
Shinichi Tamura, Chairman and CEO of Sosei Group Corporation, said: “Today is an historic day for Sosei. Heptares is based on truly world-class science and its drug discovery and development capabilities will contribute to a sustainable stream of new products for the Group. While core to our future, an independent subsidiary structure will ensure Heptares is able to maintain the culture and business model that has been the foundation of its success so far.”
Dr Malcolm Weir, CEO of Heptares, added: “This is an excellent next step for Heptares which maintains our integrity and purpose within a Group that has a clear and coherent vision. It is a great example of the translation of ground-breaking UK academic science into economic and potential therapeutic value and secures significant investment into our technology platform and clinical pipeline well into the future. We look forward to working within the Group to advance our programmes, both partnered and in-house, and, over time, to providing much needed new treatment options for patients.”
1. Strategic rationale
The Group has been exploring strategic opportunities that can both build on and go beyond the secured revenue stream in milestones and royalties derived from the two COPD products (Ultibro® Breezhaler® and Seebri® Breezhaler®*) marketed by its partner Novartis.
The acquisition of Heptares, with its exciting clinical and preclinical pipeline of potentially transformative new medicines targeting serious diseases with major unmet need (e.g. Alzheimer’s disease, ADHD, metabolic disease, schizophrenia, migraine, and others), and its unique, differentiated and high potential StaR® drug discovery platform, significantly fulfils this goal and further represents a major step towards the Group’s strategic vision of becoming a significant global biopharmaceutical company arising from Japan.
In addition to its pipeline and platform, Heptares has established collaborative partnerships with a number of the world’s leading pharmaceutical companies that provide the company with a prospective stream of revenue through milestones and royalties. Consolidation of these revenues will make a significant contribution to the Group’s financial position. The combined entity expects continued strong growth driven by revenues from new clinical-stage alliances and platform partnerships.
Heptares was founded in 2007 based on the pioneering work of its founding scientists Richard Henderson and Christopher Tate at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology (Cambridge, UK), with investment from MVM Life Science Partners and led by co-founders Malcolm Weir and Fiona Marshall. From these origins, and with additional venture funding from MVM, Clarus Ventures, Novartis Venture Fund, Takeda Ventures and the Stanley Family Foundation, Heptares has moved on to develop its unique StaR® technology platform that enables it to design drugs precisely based on a detailed understanding of the structure of the drug target – an approach known as structure-based drug design (SBDD). By this method, Heptares aims to design and develop superior medicines that are more effective, with better selectivity and fewer side effects.
Heptares applies this approach primarily to GPCRs – a superfamily of membrane proteins found in every cell in the body that are crucial to communication between cells. Their central role in many biological processes means that they are important targets for drugs: GPCRs are the site of action of about 40% of currently marketed drugs. The potential of the Heptares platform for both discovery of novel, differentiated small molecules and biologics, is therefore very high.
An enhanced product pipeline
Heptares’ StaR® platform has been used to generate an exciting, wholly owned pipeline of new medicines with potential to transform the treatment of a wide range of human diseases. The pipeline is focused on highly validated targets and is diversified across the neuroscience, metabolic and orphan disease areas, creating multiple future opportunities for both internal development and partnering, and thereby poised to generate revenue in the near future and over a long-term period.
Heptares’ pipeline of first-in-class or superior next-generation therapeutics includes:
|Development programme||Indication||Development Stage|
|M1 agonist||Cognitive impairment in Alzheimer’s disease/ Schizophrenia/others)||Phase Ib|
|A2A antagonist||ADHD||IND open|
|M4 agonist||Psychosis (Schizophrenia/ Alzheimer’s disease/others)||Pre-clinical|
|M1M4 dual agonist||Cognitive impairment and psychosis in Schizophrenia/ Alzheimer’s disease/others)||Pre-clinical|
|GLP-1 agonist peptide||Diabetes||Pre-clinical|
|GLP-1 antagonist||Congenital hyperinsulinism||Pre-clinical|
|Orexin OX1 antagonist||Addiction||Pre-clinical|
Besides the above-mentioned programmes, the enlarged product portfolio of the Group will also include two COPD products, Seebri® Breezhaler® and Ultibro® Breezhaler®, developed and marketed in the EU, Japan, etc. (NDA submitted in the US) by licensing partner Novartis, SO-1105, a Phase III product indicated for oropharyngeal candidiasis, and four early stage products.
A proprietary drug discovery technology platform that is expected to generate revenue through and beyond the expiration of the Group’s COPD patents in 2026
In addition to in-house development, Heptares has leveraged the capabilities of its proprietary StaR® technology to sign partnership agreements with a number of the world’s leadingpharmaceutical and biologics companies, including AstraZeneca, Cubist (Merck), Takeda Pharmaceutical, MorphoSys, MedImmune and Novartis. These existing partnerships have provided more than USD 30 million in upfront and milestone payments to-date and are expected to continue generating revenues through milestone payments and royalties over the coming years and beyond the expiration of the Group’s COPD products patents in 2026. New pipeline products and alliance deals will likewise generate income for many years to come.
The Heptares platform will complement the existing technologies of the Group subsidiaries: Activus’ nanoparticle technology (APNT), and Jitsubo’s novel peptide manufacturing technology (Molecular Hiving™) and peptide modification technology (Peptune™). Together, these technologies are expected to generate synergies in the effort to identify new compounds, and to further strengthen the pipeline and enhance corporate value.
Experienced leadership team with enhanced development and regulatory potential
Heptares is founded on world-class UK science and has built an outstanding team of scientists with expertise in GPCRs, SBDD, drug discovery and development, and neuroscience. These capabilities of Heptares in the EU and US will complement those of the Group in Japan, and will be supported by the management team that has extensive expertise in EU/US drug development and commercialization.
2. Management Structure
The Group will continue to be led by Shinichi Tamura as Chairman and CEO. Dr Malcolm Weir, Heptares co-founder and CEO, will remain as CEO of Heptares, which will be managed as an autonomous subsidiary of the Group. Dr Weir will also join the enlarged Group as Chief R&D Officer and will be responsible for worldwide research and development outside Japan. Dr Declan Doogan and Peter Bains, currently serving as non-executive directors on the Group’s main Board, will join the Heptares Board representing the Group’s interest. Dr Fiona Marshall, co-founder of Heptares and CSO, will also join the Heptares Board
3. Transaction details
Sosei has acquired 100% of Heptares’ share capital for USD 180 million in cash consideration and up to USD 220 million contingent upon the successful progression of the company’s pipeline and platform.
Sosei was advised by Moelis & Company and Clifford Chance LLP. Heptares was advised by Goldman Sachs International and Covington & Burling LLP.
Sosei Group Corporation
Tokyo – Investor Relations
+81 (0)3 5210 3399
London – PA to CEO & Corporate Communication
+44 (0) 20 7691 0983
Citigate Dewe Rogerson (for Heptares)
Mark Swallow, Chris Gardner
+44 (0) 20 7282 2948/2995
Heptares Therapeutics Ltd
Malcolm Weir, Chief Executive Officer (UK)
+44 (0) 1707 358 629
Conference call and Webcast
A conference call and live webcast will be held on Monday, 23 February 2015, at 10:00 hrs GMT. To participate, please dial the appropriate number below five minutes prior to the call:
London, United Kingdom: +44 (0) 20 7136 2056
National free phone - United Kingdom: 0800 279 4992
Local - New York, United States of America: +1 718 971 5738
National free phone - United States of America: 1 877 280 2296
Local - Tokyo, Japan: +81(0)3 5767 4606
National free phone - Japan: 0066 3381 2527
Participant pin code: 9932813
The webcast can be accessed at http://edge.media-server.com/m/p/yhvuot9x
Notes to editors
Sosei is a biopharmaceutical company originating from Japan but with global presence. Sosei’s primary business model is based on identifying novel and/or differentiated product assets or technology platforms and, through supporting these in preclinical and clinical development and establishing commercial partnerships, advancing new medicines to patients worldwide. To learn more about Sosei, please visit http://www.sosei.com
Heptares is a clinical-stage company creating transformative medicines targeting G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs), a superfamily of 375 receptors linked to a wide range of human diseases. Its proprietary structure-based drug design technology enables us to engineer drugs for highly validated, yet historically undruggable or challenging, GPCRs. Using this approach, we have built an exciting pipeline of new medicines with the potential to transform the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease, ADHD, diabetes, schizophrenia, migraine, and other diseases. Its pharmaceutical partners include Cubist, MorphoSys, Takeda, AstraZeneca and MedImmune. To learn more about Heptares, please visit http://www.heptares.com
This press release contains forward-looking statements, including statements about the discovery, development and commercialisation of products and expected revenue growth. Various risks may cause Sosei’s actual results to differ materially from those expressed or implied by the forward-looking statements, including: adverse results in clinical development programmes; failure to obtain patent protection for inventions; commercial limitations imposed by patents owned or controlled by third parties; dependence upon strategic alliance partners to develop and commercialise products and services; difficulties or delays in obtaining regulatory approvals to market products and services resulting from development efforts; the requirement for substantial funding to conduct research and development and to expand commercialisation activities; and product initiatives by competitors. As a result of these factors, prospective investors are cautioned not to rely on any forward-looking statements. We disclaim any intention or obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.
Moelis & Company UK LLP (“Moelis & Company”) is acting exclusively as financial adviser to Sosei and no one else in connection with the matters described in this announcement. In connection with such matters, Moelis & Company will not regard any other person as their client, nor will they be responsible to any person other than Sosei for providing the protections afforded to clients of Moelis & Company or for providing advice in connection with the matters described in this announcement or any matter referred to herein.”
Goldman Sachs International, which is authorized by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority in the United Kingdom, is acting for Heptares and no one else in connection with the distribution of this document and will not be responsible to anyone other than Heptares for providing the protections afforded to clients of Goldman Sachs International, or for giving advice in connection with this announcement or any matter referred to herein.
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Novartis Venture Fund was one of the original investors in Alios in 2009, participating in their Series A as well as successive financing rounds and was a member of the board of directors.
August 2014: Covagen AG was acquired by Cilag GmbH International, an affiliate of the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson, further strengthening Cilag’s immunology portfolio and capabilities. Covagen’s lead product, COVA 322, a bispecific anti-tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-alpha/anti-interleukin (IL)-17A FynomAb, is in Phase 1b study for psoriasis and holds potential as a treatment for a broad range of inflammatory diseases including rheumatoid arthritis. Covagen’s proprietary Fynomer platform creates fully human small binding proteins engineered to bind to target molecules with excellent affinity and specificity. Fynomers are fused to antibodies, creating FynomAbs, with tailored architecture and novel mode of action, these FynomAb therapeutics may offer enhanced efficacy in the treatment of a broad range of inflammatory diseases and other conditions. Financial terms of the transaction have not been disclosed.
Covagen was founded in 2009 with seed financing from Novartis Venture Fund and MP Healthcare Venture Management. Novartis Venture Fund continued to fund Covagen in the successive financing rounds and was a member of the board of directors.
We are stage agnostic (seed to commercial companies) and invest in multiple therapeutic areas where there is clear unmet medical need. Our first step in the process is to review non-confidential information about the company, team, technology / data, financial and exit plan. The further evaluation of business proposals is then based on confidential presentations by the management team that starts the full due diligence process.
Investments by the Novartis Venture Fund are made as equity participation typically as the lead or co-lead investor in a syndicate with a board seat.
Please contact one of our offices closest to the company site for an initial review. We have offices in Basel, Switzerland and Cambridge, MA, USA and entrepreneurs should contact the office closest to their company.