Facio raises €4.8M from the FSHD community and EvotecLeiden, the Netherlands - 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 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).