FreeOx Biotech, a spin-out of Hospital Clinic Barcelona-IDIBAPS, develops drugs that reduce oxidative stress in the body, particularly that in the neurological and cardiovascular systems. Despite having been set up very recently (in March 2017), the company already has two molecules in its pipeline. One of them, Ox-01, has completed phase IIb clinical development in 421 stroke patients. For now, the results are promising: 69% of patients who have a mechanical thrombectomy regain full autonomy after treatment with Ox-01.
There were two clear and complementary reasons: 1) I really wanted to; and 2) FreeOx is a unique opportunity in terms of its founding partners, scientific approach, stage of development and the challenge of reaching the market and offering a first-in-class treatment for stroke, which is the number one cause of death among women and for which there are hardly any therapeutic options available today.
Plus, given my career, heading up a project like FreeOx will allow me to put in practice and make good use of the knowledge and experience I have gained over these many years.
As CEO, you have to have it very clear that your function is to make decisions and assume responsibility. In this regard, it is very important in a start-up to decide which activities bring the most value to the company right from the start. Resources are very limited and you have to choose where to invest them wisely. In the early stages, we prioritized choosing the best collaborators to add value in areas that are key for this type of company: intellectual property, regulatory and legal issues, and funding.
One thing that I share completely: the main key to success for any project is the team. There are many other factors but this is the alpha and omega; everything goes through the team. Throughout my career I’ve seen this in practice: a good team is unstoppable. So, I humbly advise any project or company to surround themselves with people who are dedicated, who share, who make decisions and will be held accountable for them (above all when they fail) and who have a sense of humor. This may not ensure success but it will go a long way towards it.
It isn’t very common for a start-up to have a project that has completed phase IIb with such promising results and a disease as in need of therapeutic options as stroke. In this regard, our main short-term goal is to consolidate this work and boost its value by adapting to regulatory and market criteria to make the product more attractive to potential licensees. In the middle-term, and I mean four to five years, we want Ox-01 to be available in hospital pharmacies as a therapeutic option for stroke patients.