Facio raises €4.8M from the FSHD community and Evotec
June 20, 2017
Facio Therapies announced today that it had raised €4.8M (approximately A$7.1M or US$5.4M) in equity financing from a global investor syndicate composed of FSHD-affected families from Australia, Europe, and North America; the French patient organization, Amis FSH; and Facio’s drug discovery partner, German-based Evotec.
Facio will use the proceeds of this funding to further accelerate the selection of pre-clinical lead candidates in close collaboration with Evotec. In March 2017, Facio announced that it had validated more than 300 compounds (so-called “hits”) that repress the production of the muscle-toxic DUX4 protein in cultured muscle cells derived from FSHD patient biopsies. Undue production of DUX4 in skeletal muscle is the cause of FSHD. In people without FSHD, the production of DUX4 is repressed by regulatory mechanisms in the muscle cell. Facio’s single goal is to develop therapies that restore this repression as much as possible.
Dr Cord Dohrmann, Chief Scientific Officer of Evotec, commented: "We are very excited about working together with Facio in FSHD, a devastating disease with a high unmet medical need. Using a unique patient-centric approach, we jointly intend to identify and develop drug candidates with disease-modifying properties. Combining Facio’s very focused management team with our proven drug discovery platforms is a highly effective model for both Facio and Evotec to bring forward projects with first-in-class potential and perfectly fits to Evotec’s equity strategy.“
Kees van der Graaf, Facio’s Chairman, added: “It makes us very proud that FSHD-affected families across the world as well as Amis FSH have joined our shareholder base alongside Evotec, our first corporate investor from outside the FSHD community. Especially encouraging is the growing support for our business model that centers around creating value for patients in the form of safe, effective, and affordable therapeutic drugs. We believe that drug affordability is achievable by using deep biochemical knowledge and extreme capital efficiency to relentlessly pursue a single cause. The success of this funding round makes us all the more committed to reach our goal as we extend our highly productive partnership with Evotec.”
FSHD (facioscapulohumeral dystrophy) is a muscle wasting disease, worldwide devastating the lives of about 700,000 people and those close to them. The loss of muscle strength has a huge impact on daily life. Living with FSHD means living with pain, fatigue and social isolation. Above all, the future becomes uncertain because the course of the disease is unpredictable. About 20% of people with FSHD end up in a wheelchair. Currently, no therapy for FSHD is available other than forms of temporary symptomatic relief.
About Evotec AG
Evotec is a drug discovery alliance and development partnership company focused on rapidly progressing innovative product approaches with leading pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, academics, patient advocacy groups and venture capitalists. Evotec operates worldwide providing the highest quality stand-alone and integrated drug discovery solutions, covering all activities from target-to-clinic to meet the industry’s need for innovation and efficiency in drug discovery (EVT Execute). The Company has established a unique position by assembling top-class scientific experts and integrating state-of-the-art technologies as well as substantial experience and expertise in key therapeutic areas including neuroscience, diabetes and complications of diabetes, pain and inflammation, oncology and infectious diseases. On this basis, Evotec has built a broad and deep pipeline of more than 70 partnered product opportunities at clinical, pre-clinical and discovery stages (EVT Innovate). Evotec has established multiple long-term discovery alliances with partners including Bayer, CHDI, Sanofi or UCB and development partnerships with e.g. with Sanofi in the field of diabetes, with Pfizer in the field of tissue fibrosis and Celgene in the field of neurodegenerative diseases.
About Amis FSH
Amis FSH (Friends of FSH) is the French, government-recognized, not-for-profit organization dedicated to finding a cure for FSHD. Amis FSH seeks to raise public awareness of FSHD, actively supports FSHD research, and brings together patients, scientists and clinicians.
About Facio Therapies BV
Facio Therapies, established in 2014, is a Netherlands-based company with a single focus – to overcome FSHD by developing a causal therapy that restores the natural repression of muscle-toxic DUX4. Facio works with leaders in the field to develop an affordable FSHD therapy in the most expeditious fashion possible. Having arisen from, and dedicated to working for the FSHD community, Facio’s business approach is to have a positive impact on lives rather than to maximize financial gain. Facio’s founders – Kees van der Graaf (Netherlands), Bill Moss (Australia), and Neil Camarta (Canada) – are business leaders from the FSHD community. Since inception, Facio has raised over €8M in equity funding, predominantly from FSHD-affected families, their friends, and FSHD foundations across the world.