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Start-up IDP Pharma, which develops drugs that attack new therapeutic targets –IDPs or Intrinsically Disordered Proteins– to fight various types of cancer, closed its second round of funding in February valued at €1.4 millions.

This is in addition to the €100,000 of seed capital they raised in June 2015 in a round led by private investors (mainly scientists) and €575,000 in loans and public subsidies for participating in competitive projects with ACCIÓ, ENISA, CDTI - NEOTEC and the Ministry of the Economy and Competitiveness.

In total, in their first year –the company was founded in February 2015– IDP Pharma raised total of €2 millions and successfully completed the drug discovery phase with two products that attack an IDP. Now, the goal is to complete the preclinical phase of research and development with this latest round of funding, which was led by an industrial investor with the support of business angels.

Cofounder and CEO of IDP Pharma Dr. Santiago Esteban explains that for the moment the company has discovered two agents with antitumor activity, one to fight leukemia and the other that could be effective against lung and breast cancer and melanomas.

According to Esteban, IDPs are proteins that are considered key points in some diseases, but even the pharmaceutical industry hasn't launched a massive attack on them because they are quite abnormal.

"Most attention has been paid to IDPs in relation to Alzheimer and we want to gain ground in the field of cancer because we have detected an opening where we can compete," he explains.

However the company doesn't only aim to develop drugs, but also to create specific technology to design these drugs. "We want to set ourselves apart because we believe that as time goes on there will be more companies working in the field of IDPs," says Dr. Laura Nevola, cofounder and CSO of the company. That will also allow them to develop a portfolio of products.


Barcelona, an environment of excellence in IDPs and leukemia

"When we started the company we spent a lot of time looking at how we could take advantage of the environment to be competitive," says Esteban. "It isn't a coincidence that the first company specializing in IDPs is in Barcelona." According to the company CEO, the Catalan capital is a hub of experts in IDPs, with many research groups that focus their work on studying these intrinsically disordered proteins.

This is why the company has chosen leukemia as one of their first diseases to focus on. "Catalonia is very strong in hematology, which makes it easier to access knowledge and funding," believes Laura Nevola. In fact, the team is collaborating with Evarist Feliu, an expert in the field and Scientific Director of the Josep Carreras Leukemia Research Institute, one of the first European centers to specialize in leukemia, and vice president of the Josep Carreras Leukemia Foundation.

IDP Pharma, which participated in the seventh edition of BioemprenedorXXI, will attend the 2016 BIO International Convention in San Francisco with the Catalan delegation, led by Biocat.

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