Facio raises €2 millionLeiden, the Netherlands - November 6, 2014
Facio Therapies has secured €2 million (about US$ 2.5 million) in initial financing from founding investors Kees van der Graaf and Bill Moss AM. Facio will use these funds towards its drug development program, which is aimed at stopping the progression of FSHD.
In people with FSHD, the activity of the protein, SMCHD1, is too low. This enables the production of a toxic protein called DUX4. The first step in Facio’s drug development program is a search for new chemical entities (NCEs) that boost the activity of the SMCHD1 protein. NCEs are relatively simple compounds that are manufactured by chemical synthesis. They are available in very large collections that can be screened in a high-throughput, automated process.
The raise of €2 million marks the first closing of the founding investment round of Facio’s parent company, FSHD Unlimited. A second closing is planned to take place in the course of 2015.
FSHD (facioscapulohumeral dystrophy) is a skeletal muscle wasting disease that devastates the lives of over 700,000 people worldwide 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 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 the muscle-toxic protein, DUX4. When unduly produced in skeletal muscle, DUX4 sets in motion a cascade of cellular events that eventually result in the muscle wasting seen in FSHD. Facio is the only one in the FSHD field with a fully automated, high-throughput screening platform based on quantifying the DUX4 protein in unadulterated (“primary”) FSHD-affected muscle cells. Facio delivered the first-ever therapeutically relevant proof of principle in FSHD by showing that one of its lead candidates, an orally active small molecule, represses DUX4 levels produced by human FSHD-affected muscle cells in a unique animal model (“in vivo”).
Rooted in, 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. Since inception, Facio has raised over €16M in equity funding from FSHD-affected families, their friends, FSHD foundations, and Facio’s drug discovery partner, Evotec. Facio’s Board consists of business leaders from the FSHD community – Kees van der Graaf (Chairman; Netherlands), Neil Camarta (Canada), Dave Mackay (USA), Bill Moss (Australia), and Chip Wilson (Canada) – and Evotec’s CSO, Cord Dohrmann (Germany).