Index Ventures backs novel anticoagulant
Published with kind permission of MEDNOUS.
Index Ventures is launching a virtual, single-product company that is developing a monoclonal antibody with the potential, it says, to prevent heart attack and stroke without causing bleeding. The antibody targets the clotting enzyme thrombin. The funding was announced on 17 June.
The company, X01 Ltd, has received an $11 million, Series A funding from the Index Ventures Life VI fund which was formed last year with the participation of GlaxoSmithKline Plc and Johnson & Johnson Inc. The pharma companies did not directly participate in the financing.
The proceeds will be used to develop the antibody, which was discovered at the University of Cambridge’s Addenbrooke’s Hospital in 2008. At the time, a patient with a head injury was diagnosed with having a degree of anticoagulation consistent with severe haemophilia. However the bleeding stopped normally. When further investigation showed that an antibody was responsible for the anticoagulation without bleeding, Cambridge researchers designed a molecule that mimicked the one in nature.
According to David Grainger, a venture partner at Index Ventures, Jim Huntington, a structural biologist, and Trevor Baglin, a clinician, solved the crystal structure of the patient’s antibody binding to thrombin. They used that to create a monoclonal antibody called ichorcumab which mimics the binding mode of the natural antibody.
Dr Grainger, who is the interim chief executive and only employee of X01, told MedNous that he expects ichorcumab, if approved, to compete successfully with warfarin and the new oral anticoagulants such as Pradaxa and Eliquis, in the indications for which they have been approved, such as stroke and atrial fibrillation.
Before joining Index Ventures, Dr Grainger was a principal investigator at the Department of Medicine of Cambridge University. He said that as a consequence he has a good relationship with Cambridge’s technology transfer affiliate, Cambridge Enterprise. It was through this network that he found the antibody product.
Dr Grainger said ichorcumab would be expected to be much safer for patients by reducing or eliminating bleeding episodes. More importantly, it should be much more effective simply because it could potentially be used to maintain a much higher degree of anticoagulation than is safe with the current drugs.
That is only the beginning of what is possible, he said. “If the profile of anticoagulation without bleeding we see in the original patient is confirmed in clinical trials, we would expect to see ichorcumab approved for prevention of myocardial infarction in acute coronary syndrome.”
Index Ventures first started experimenting with virtual, asset-centric models in 2005. Since then they have launched many single or double product companies, culminating in last year’s launch of the Life VI fund, which is devoted to asset-centric investing in pharmaceuticals. The approach eliminates or reduces drastically infrastructure and personnel costs, which makes it possible for a single VC to finance the company until exit rather than having several investment rounds. In turn, this eliminates a distortion in which later investors get much better terms than the original ones.
Copyright 2013 Evernow Publishing Ltd
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