Facio successfully completes first equity round with close to €2.5M in total proceedsLeiden, the Netherlands - October 2, 2015
Facio Therapies has obtained close to €500,000 in equity funding from the FSHD Global Research Foundation as well as private investors from both within and outside the FSHD community. These funds are in addition to the €2 million equity financing raised in 2014.
Facio will use the financing proceeds to identify compounds that show potential to stop the progression of FSHD. These compounds are so-called small molecules, relatively simple compounds that are manufactured by chemical synthesis. In close collaboration with Evotec, Facio will conduct an automated high-throughput screen to identify small molecules with a positive effect on SMCHD1 and DUX4 activity in human FSHD-affected muscle cell lines. The compounds that show promising activity in this screen are expected to be available in the first half of 2016. These compounds will require extensive further testing to produce compounds that are suitable for the development of a therapeutic for the treatment of FSHD.
Natalie Moss, Managing Director of the FSHD Global Research Foundation, said: “We are excited and proud to be part of Facio, and we look forward to supporting and powering the project where possible”. She added: “For a charity to have the opportunity to invest into biotech truly modernizes philanthropy, and enables charities a new avenue to in essence self-invest”.
The €500,000 raise marks the second and final closing of the founding investment round of Facio’s parent, FSHD Unlimited.
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).