Novartis Venture Fund
Foster innovation, drive significant patient benefit and generate superior returns by creating and investing in innovative life science companies.
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 with approximately USD 800 million under management 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 approximately $800 million
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 21 clinical programs in Phase 1 or Phase 2.
|Autoimmune, Immunology, Transplantation||4 1|
|Cardiovascular, Metabolism||1 1|
|Infectious Diseases||7 3 3|
|Neuroscience||4 1 2|
|Ophtalmology||3 1 1|
|Oncology||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.
Trans-apical and trans-femoral cardiac valve replacement.
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, E-scape and NeuroVia.
E-scape Bio, Inc. (Board Seat) NeuroVia, Inc. (Board Seat) Thesan Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (Board Seat)
Dr. Markus Goebel is a Managing Director in Cambridge, MA, USA. 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 board of eFFECTOR and Macrolide.
Macrolide (Board Seat) eFFECTOR Therapeutics, 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) Ra Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ: RARX) 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 Adicet, Anokion SA, Atlas Genetics, Inflazome, Kanyos, Opsona, and Vivet.
Adicet Bio, Inc. (Board Seat) Anokion SA (Board Seat) Atlas Genetics, Ltd (Board Seat) Inflazome (Board Seat) Kanyos Bio, Inc. (Board Seat) Opsona, Ltd (Board Seat) Vivet Therapeutics (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) Gensight (EURONEXT: SIGHT) Merus Biopharmaceuticals BV (NASDAQ:MRUS)
Dr. Anja König is the Global Head of the NVF in Basel, Switzerland. Previously, she was a Managing Director at NVF investing in Switzerland, U.K. and the rest of Europe as well as Asia/Pacific. Prior to joining NVF, she was an Associate Partner at McKinsey and Company in New York, 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. Anja is active in the Swiss startup ecosystem and is a member of the board of the University of Zurich Life Sciences Fund, the evaluation panel of the Bridge Grant POC program of the Swiss National Science Foundation and the CTI, the selection committee of BaseLaunch and serves as a coach with the ETH Pioneer Labs program.
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) Nabriva Therapeutics AG (NASDAQ: NBRV) Qurient Therapeutics (KOSDAQ: 115180)
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 Annexon, Galera, and Lemonaid Health.
Annexon, Inc. (Board Seat) Galera Therapeutics, Inc. (Board Seat) Lemonaid Health, Inc. (Board Seat)
Aerpio Therapeutics, Inc. Akebia Therapeutics, Inc. (NASDAQ: AKBA) Alios BioPharma, Inc. (Acquired by J&J) Tokai Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ: TKAI) Neurovance, Inc. (Acquired by Otsuka)
Dr. David Morris is a Venture Partner in San Francisco, CA, USA. Prior to joining NVF, he held multiple leadership roles in the Novartis Pharmaceuticals development organization including the Development Franchise Head of Respiratory, Development Franchise Head of Primary Care and, most recently, Global Head of Clinical Operations, Analytics and Regions where he was responsible for clinical trials operations and monitoring, statistics, data management, medical writing, submissions management and digital innovation. Prior to joining Novartis in 2009, David worked in drug discovery and translational medicine at Roche in Palo Alto, California. Before joining industry, he was a faculty member at Yale University Medical School and, prior to that, the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) Medical School. David received his Bachelors and Medical Degrees with distinction from the University of Rochester Medical School and trained in internal medicine at the Massachusetts General Hospital and in Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine at UCSF. He did his postdoctoral research training at the Lung Biology Center and Cardiovascular Research Institute at UCSF. Dave serves on the board of NeuroVia.
NeuroVia, Inc. (Board Seat)
Dr. Florian Muellershausen is a Principal in Basel, Switzerland. Prior to joining Novartis Venture Fund, he worked as a Scientific Manager for the R&D Committee of the Novartis Board of Directors and, before that held various scientific and drug discovery roles at the Novartis Institute of Biomedical Research (NIBR) including as Laboratory Head in target discovery and in early clinical research as Translational Medicine Expert, Autoimmunity. Florian received his MSc degree in Biochemistry from Free University Berlin and his PhD degree with great distinction in Biochemistry from Ruhr University Bochum and completed his post-doctoral training at NIBR in Switzerland.
Dr. Aaron Nelson is a Principal in Cambridge, MA, USA. Prior to joining NVF, he was an investor at dRx Capital, the joint investment company of Novartis and Qualcomm, focused on Digital Medicine. dRx catalyzes the success of digital medicine products, services, and business models by investing in early-stage companies and leveraging networks in Pharma, Mobile/IT, and the investment community. Previously, Aaron worked on technology strategy across multiple Business Units within Novartis, including Strategic Project Leader for the Trials of The Future program and Group Head in the Investigative Toxicology organization. Aaron studied medicine at Tufts University, cell and microbiology at the University of Pennsylvania and the Karolinska Institutet, and completed his undergraduate studies at Cornell University.
Michal Silverberg is a Managing Director in Cambridge, MA, USA. Prior to joining NVF, she was a Senior Director for External Innovation at Takeda Ventures and, before that, worked at Novo Nordisk in roles of increasing responsibility including as Senior Director Business Development and New Product Commercialization, serving as a member of the BioPharm leadership team. Since 1998, Michal has held positions in various sectors of the life science industry including in the Office of the Chief Scientist of Israel (The Incubator program), venture capital (Ofer Brothers Hi Tech) and global pharmaceutical and biotech companies, including various positions at MGVS, an Israeli biotech company and at OSI Pharmaceuticals in a business development role. She received her B.A. in Economics and Business Management from Haifa University, her M.B.A from Tel-Aviv University in Israel and her Master’s degree in Biotechnology from Columbia University in New York. Michal serves on the board of Forma Therapeutics.
FORMA (Board Seat)
Steven D. Weinstein is a Managing Director in Cambridge, MA, USA. Steve focuses on both medical device and therapeutic investments for the fund. Steve has been investing in venture capital since 1999. Prior to joining NVF, he was a Principal at Prism Venture Partners where he focused on medical devices and served on the board of Sensitech (acquired by Carrier/UTX). Prior to Prism, Steve was a Kauffman Fellow with Mid-Atlantic Venture Funds, where he focused on software startups. He started his career as a turnaround CEO, raising angel funds to buy a defunct distribution business out of bankruptcy and restart it. 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 Innovation Advisory Board of Partners Healthcare, and is a member of the Virginia GAP BioLife Fund Investment Committee, the University of Michigan Wolverine Venture Fund Advisory Board. Steve serves on the boards of Autonomic Technologies, Cavion, Rox Medical and Viamet Pharmaceuticals.
Autonomic Technologies, Inc. (Board Seat) Cavion (Board Seat) Rox Medical, Inc. (Board Seat) Viamet Pharmaceuticals Holdings, LLC (Board Seat)
Ablation Frontiers, Inc. (Acquired by Medtronic) Visiogen, Inc. (Acquired by Abbott)
Prof. Patrick Aebischer is President emeritus of the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) and a member of its Brain Mind Institute. Patrick Aebischer trained as an MD (1980) and a Neuroscientist (1983) at the Universities of Geneva and Fribourg in Switzerland. Prior to joining EPFL, he held Faculty positions at Brown University and the University of Lausanne. He has received numerous honors, including the Robert Bing Prize of the Swiss Academy of Medicine and the Pfizer Foundation Prize for Clinical Neurosciences. He serves as a Senate Member of the "Deutsches Zentrum für Neurodegenerative Erkrankungen” (DZNE). He is a member of the scientific committee of the Italian Institute of Technology and a member of the Singapore Biomedical Sciences International Advisory Council. Prof. Aebischer is a member of the Board of Lonza, Nestlé and Logitech and a founder of three biotech companies. He is a senior partner of NanoDimension-III.
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.
Prof. Paul Herrling is Vice-President of the Board of the Swiss Federal Institutes of Technology (ETH Rat) and Professor for Drug Discovery Science at the Philosophisch-Naturwissenschaftliche Fakultät at the University of Basel, Switzerland. Prof. Herrling also holds a number of memberships in various boards including the Board of the Novartis Institute for Functional Genomics, the Board of Trustees Foundation for NIH and the Board of Trustees at the University of Basel. He also serves as member of the Scientific Advisory Committee – Drugs for Neglected Diseases (DNDi), of the Advisory Board of the Department of Chemistry at the University of Basel and of the Scientific Advisory Boards of H3D, Medidata and of the Human Brain Project of the European Union. Prof. Paul Herrling was global Head of Research of Novartis Pharma AG and a member of the Novartis Pharma Executive Board.
Harry Kirsch is the Chief Financial Officer of Novartis and a member of the Executive Committee of Novartis. Prior to his current position, he served as CFO of the company’s Pharmaceuticals Division. Under his leadership, the division’s core operating income margin increased, in constant currencies, every quarter of 2011 and 2012 despite patent expirations. Harry joined Novartis in 2003 from Procter & Gamble in the United States, where he was a CFO of P&G’s global pharmaceutical business and held various finance positions at divisional, regional, country and manufacturing site level, as well as in P&G Global Business Services organization. Harry also represents Novartis on the board of the GSK Consumer Healthcare joint venture. Harry holds a degree in industrial engineering and economics from the University of Karlsruhe in Germany.
Nobel Prize Winner for Chemistry, Collège de France, Paris, Université Louis Pasteur, Strasbourg, France.
Director of Research, Institut Curie, Paris, France.
Dr. Christoph A. Meier is the Chief Medical Officer at the University Hospital Basel and Professor at the Medical Faculty of the University of Geneva. Prior to his current role, he was the Chief of the Department of Internal Medicine & Specialties and a member of the Board of Directors at Triemli Hospital in Zurich, Switzerland, as well as Chief of Endocrinology and Head of the Laboratory of Molecular Endocrinology at the University Hospital Geneva. Dr. Meier received his Medical Degree from the University of Basel in Switzerland and holds his Swiss Board Certification (FMH) in Internal Medicine and Endocrinology & Diabetology. Dr. Meier completed his medical residency at the University Hospital of Geneva and was a a Postdoctoral Fellow at the National Institutes of Health in the Molecular, Cellular Nutritional Endocrinology Branch in Bethesda, MD (USA). He was also a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Physician Fellow at the Division of Genetics, Brigham and Women's Hospital, as well as a Clinical Fellow in Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism at the Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School.
Dr. Raj Parekh is General Partner at Advent Life Sciences in London, UK. He joined Advent in 2005 bringing over 20 years of experience in biomedical research and as an entrepreneur and investor. After gaining an M.A. and D.Phil. degrees from Oxford University, Dr. Parekh pursued a successful academic career in molecular medicine before co-founding Oxford GlycoSciences (IPO on LSE and NASDAQ). Following its sale to UCB-Celltech, he became Chairman of Galapagos and a founding Director of Celldex Therapeutics. He has been involved with portfolio companies primarily engaged in the discovery of new medicines, including Avila, EUSA and Thiakis. Dr. Parekh currently serves on the board of several portfolio companies including Arrakis, Aura Biosciences and Levicept.
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. Beat serves on the board of AlloCyte.
AlloCyte Pharmaceuticals (Board Seat)
Dr. Fiona Marshall is the Chief Scientific Officer and a founder of Heptares Therapeutics – a drug discovery and development biotechnology company. She is also Executive VP and CSO of Sosei Group which acquired Heptares in 2015. Fiona has a BSc in biochemistry from Bath University and a PhD in neuroscience from Cambridge University. She has more than 25 years' experience in drug discovery including senior positions at GSK and Millennium. Fiona also has extensive experience working as an advisor to Venture Capital companies with an emphasis on start-up investments. Fiona is on the Board of Trustees of Alzheimer’s Research UK, the council of the Academy of Medical sciences and on advisory boards of the Crick Institute and the Wellcome Trust. She is chair of the MRC DPFS committee. She won the 2012 WISE Women of Outstanding Achievement for Innovation and Entrepreneurship and the 2015 RSC Malcolm Campbell Award for chemistry. She was elected as a Fellow to the Academy of Medical Sciences in 2016.
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.
Lemonaid Health is leading a second wave of telehealth where technology algorithms power quality care. Lemonaid leverages evidence-based guidelines and the most up-to-date clinical protocols to offer a service direct to consumer for less than typical co-pays. Lemonaid is focused on creating a revolutionized patient experience and improving and optimizing clinical care through the advancements in machine learning and AI.
Vivet Therapeutics SAS is addressing current gene therapy limitations and focusing on the discovery and clinical development of gene therapy for liver inherited metabolic diseases as well as for protein replacement therapy. A treatment of the Wilson’s disease has entered GMP manufacturing and IND enabling studies. Additional programs are being developed, including for treatment of progressive familial intrahepatic cholestasis and Citrulinemia.
AlloCyte develops selective, non-agonistic small molecule integrin inhibitors (integrin "silencers") to treat severe immune-mediated diseases. AlloCyte's lead indication is non-infectious posterior uveitis, a sight-threatening orphan disease.
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.
Adicet Bio, Inc. is using it’s novel immune cell therapy platform in combination with its wholly owned subsidiary, Applied Immune Technologies, Ltd.’s T-Cell Receptor-Like (TCRL) antibody platform that are targeted to intracellular-derived peptides to develop novel immunotherapies for inflammatory, autoimmune and infectious diseases as well as cancer.
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.
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.
Cavion is a clinical stage pharmaceutical company committed to providing patients with therapies for neurologic diseases and cancer through the development of drugs that selectively inhibit the T-type calcium channel (Cav3).
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
E-scape is developing therapeutics against genetic targets for neurodegenerative disease including Alzheimer’s Disease and Lewy Body Disease. E-scape’s small molecule approach binds to mutated protein targets and alters protein structure to mimic wild type functionality.
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.
Inflazome is developing first in class, orally available drugs to address clinical unmet needs by targeting activation of the inflammasome. The company has proprietary new chemical entities that inhibit inflammasome-driven release of pro-inflammatory cytokines that exacerbate inflammation. In addition, they block innate immune cell pyroptosis (uncontrolled cell death), a process that leads to chronic inflammation.
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.
Kanyos and was founded with the goal of developing antigen-specific immune tolerance technology for two specific autoimmune indications, type-1 diabetes and celiac disease. The technology originates from EPFL and consists of transporting antigens onto the surface of erythrocytes, enabling specific antigen T cell depletion.
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.
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.
NeuroVia is a specialty pharmaceutical company focused on developing therapeutics for orphan disease with significant unmet medical need.
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).
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.
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.
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.
Rox Medical is developing an innovative interventional vascular therapy for uncontrolled hypertension. This therapy is intended to reduce peripheral vascular resistance and add a compliant venous element to the arterial system through creation of a therapeutic arteriovenous anastomosis with the ROX Coupler.
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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.
November 2014: Alios BioPharma, Inc. (Alios) was acquired by Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) for ~$1.75 billion in cash, strengthening JNJ’s existing pipeline in viral diseases. The acquisition included Alios’s portfolio of potential therapeutics for viral infections including compound AL-8176, an orally administered antiviral therapy currently in Phase 2 studies for the treatment of infants with respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). Alios developed a novel proprietary nucleoside/tide library to identify therapeutics for the treatment of several viral infections including HCV, RSV, rhinovirus, norovirus, influenza and other emerging viral diseases.
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.