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Minoryx Therapeutics attracts attention of 'la Caixa' and Inveready

An investment of €1.5 millions will allow Minoryx to develop drugs for three serious rare diseases through preclinical studies.

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By Biocat

Caixa Capital Risc and Inveready Biotech II —managed by the Inveready Group— have announced they will invest €1.5 millions in Minoryx Therapeutics, a company that develops treatments for rare diseases, mainly genetic metabolic diseases that mostly affect children and adolescents.

This is the first round of funding Minoryx Therapeutics has received since it was founded in 2011 at the Mataró-Maresme TecnoCampus Park, apart from public funding and that received from the Business Angels Network of Catalonia (BANC). In 2011, Minoryx was a runner-up in the BioEmprenedorXXI awards promoted by "la Caixa", Barcelona Activa, Biocat and the Barcelona Chamber of Commerce.

Using a computational platform and biological screening with their SEE-Tx proprietary technology, this Catalan biotechnology firm focuses on discovering drugs based on small molecules that improve defects in enzyme function caused by genetic mutations. This type of drug has awoken great interest in the pharmaceutical industry and is seen as one of the best alternatives for currently incurable diseases.

The resources raised in this round of funding will go to advance development of treatments for three rare neurometabolic diseases through completion of regulatory preclinical studies, thus allowing the company to start human clinical trials in 2015. These diseases are genetic in origin, have a very serious prognosis and are currently untreatable.

Scientists Marc Martinell, Joan Aymamí and Xavier Barril founded the company in 2011. That same year, they were one of the runners-up in the BioEmprenedorXXI awards.

Minoryx is led by Dr. Marc Martinell, who has extensive experience in drug development at Crystax and Oryzon Genomics; Dr. Joan Aymamí, a researcher at the Polytechnic University of Catalonia (UPC) and previously at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the author of numerous patents; and Dr. Xavier Barril, ICREA research fellow at the University of Barcelona (UB) and inventor of the computation technology used by Minoryx. The Minoryx Board of Directors includes Dr. Nigel Ten Fleming, founder of companies like Athena Diagnostics and G2B Pharma.

The company has a close collaborative relationship with research groups at the UB, the Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute (Idibell), the Sant Joan de Déu Foundation, the Autonomous University of Madrid and the UPC.

There are between 6,000 and 7,000 rare diseases, but there are only effective treatments for 10%. In Europe and the United States, more than 55 million people are affected by one of these diseases. Of the known minority diseases, 50% affect children, who in many cases have a very limited quality of life and require costly palliative treatments. In nearly half of these diseases, patients die before reaching adulthood.

Despite the fact that market volume for rare diseases is relatively low, treatments can generate annual sales of more than $250 millions, according to data from Caixa Capital Risc. The market is dominated by companies like Genzyme and Shire HGT –leaders in enzyme replacement therapies (ERT)—, Bio Marin and Alexion. In recent years, companies with innovative developments in the clinical phases have been the object of important agreements and acquisitions like that of Enobia for $610 millions by Alexion Pharmaceuticals in 2011.

Marc Martinell, CEO of Minoryx, with the runner-up prize at the 2011 BioEmprenedorXXI awards - Photo: © Biocat, Héctor Fuentes.