TORONTO, ON & HAMBURG, GERMANY-Toronto’s MaRS Innovation is teaming up with Evotec AG, a German-based drug discovery and development partnership company, to launch Fibrocor Therapeutics LP.
According to both parties, Fibrocor will focus on developing first-in-class therapeutics that target fibrotic diseases, to prevent, slow and ultimately reverse the course of fibrosis. Taking a new approach to understanding and treating such diseases, Fibrocor plans to bring together clinical expertise and access to disease tissue with high-throughput molecular analysis infrastructure and expertise in clinically-predictive animal models of fibrosis.
The company is being backed with a $ 2.8 million seed financing round, which includes cash from MaRS Innovation. Evotec will provide all drug discovery activities and will also receive an equity stake. The company is co-founded with leading academic and clinician scientists from world-class academic institutions in Toronto, including: Dr. Richard Gilbert, Canada Research chair in Diabetic Complications and Head of Endocrinology at St. Michael’s Hospital and scientist with the hospital’s Keenan Research Centre for Biomedical Science; Dr. Darren Yuen, Nephrologist with St. Michael’s and scientist with its Keenan Research Centre for Biomedical Science; and Dr. Jeff Wrana, senior investigator at Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute, Sinai Health System.
The academic/clinical team is to be complemented by management and business development from MaRS Innovation and drug discovery and development services from Evotec.
“Through Fibrocor we have created a transformational partnership with Evotec to translate Toronto’s world-class fibrosis expertise into therapies for patients worldwide,” MaRS Innovation president and CEO Dr. Rafi Hofstein, said.
Established in 2008, MaRS Innovation is supported by the Government of Ontario through the Ontario Centres of Excellence. The nonprofit organization has a portfolio of more than 60 companies. Late last year, one of MaRS’s leading portfolio companies, Triphase Accelerator, sold its first investigational anticancer compound, marizomib, to Celgene.
The hope, says Hofstein, is for Fibrocor to enjoy similar success. “We are building on our recent success of Triphase in the area of oncology and applying it to a new therapeutic cluster in the area of fibrosis,” he said.
Fibrocor has already identified a lead program and will partner with Evotec to develop novel molecules with the anticipation of nominating a lead candidate in 2018. In addition, Fibrocor will collaborate with its academic co-founders to expand access to tissue samples to include several relevant tissues, such as lung, liver, kidney, colon and skin.