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Minoryx gets most significant funding in biotech sector in Catalonia

The company, which specializes in drug development for rare or minority diseases without treatment, has received €19.4

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15.10.2015

This is the largest round of funding ever seen in the biotechnology sector in Catalonia and third largest in Spain (after Sanifit, just a year ago, and Celerix). The capital increase was led by Ysios Capital with €4.5 millions, through the Ysios BioFund II Innvierte fund. Other investors included Caixa Capital Risc and Health Equity (both of which already held equity in the company) and international investors: Kurma PartnersRoche Venture FundIdinvest Partnersand Chiesi Ventures.

As a result of this round of funding, the Minoryx board will take on three new members: Laia Crespo of Ysios Capital, Thierry Laugel of Kurma Partners and Monique Schiersing of Roche Venture Fund. This round will also allow Minoryx Therapeutics, a start-up based at the TecnoCampus in Mataró, to complete its team, especially in terms of R&D, in order to work towards clinical validation of MIN-102, the company’s candidate to treat the neurodegenerative disease X-linked adrenoleukodystrophy (X-ALD). This rare or minority disease affects one in 17,000 newborns and can lead to early death or motor dysfunction.

“The drug MIN-102 is a differentiated PPAR gamma agonist, which as such affects a transcription factor that in turn regulates a series of genes associated with the development of this disease. This mechanism of action acts on both axonal degeneration and neuroinflammation,” explains co-founder and CEO of the firm Marc Martinell. Although drug development projects “are highly uncertain”, Minoryx is convinced that MIN-102 “has excellent perspectives for success and could be useful for other neurodegenerative diseases as well.”

This injection of capital will also allow the Mataró-based start-up to move forward on developing a portfolio of compounds based on its innovative SEEtx technology platform, which can identify a new class of pharmacological chaperones similar to already optimized drugs with greater potential than previous generations. Minoryx hopes this platform will begin to generate new drug candidates for clinical development in the near future.

Minoryx, which specializes in drug development for minority diseases, participated in the BioEmprenedorXXI program, an initiative of BiocatBarcelona Activa and the “la Caixa” Foundation, and was created in 2011 by Marc Martinell (previous of Crystax and Oryzon), Joan Aymamí (researcher at the UPC and MIT, and founder of Crystax) and Xavier Barril (ICREA researcher at the UB and Vernalis). The news of this round, says Martinell, has been received with great pleasure but also “an important sense of responsibility. It’s been a long road to get here; we’ve been working for months. Nevertheless, it’s a breakneck pace and, a year ago, we might not have betted on being where we are today.” With this funding, the company has accumulated a total investment of €24 millions.

Despite the fact that individually each minority disease has a relatively small market, it is a highly attractive field for investors that could generate more than $250 millions. This is mainly due to the fact that these drugs are eligible for FDA designation as an orphan drug, facilitating development of the compound, cutting costs, shortening time and, if the drug reaches the market, giving it 10-year exclusivity.

More information is available in the press release

 

Martinell Minoryx

Marc Martinell, co-founder and CEO of Minoryx Therapeutics. -Photo: ©Minoryx