JumpStart Ventures, the non-profit that invests in and partners with innovative, early-stage companies in Northeast Ohio, and Cleveland Clinic, announced a combined investment commitment of $500,000 in SironRX Therapeutics, Inc. The Cleveland-based company is developing a topical therapy to enhance healing of and decrease scar formation in wounds.
SironRX’s lead drug, JVS-100, contains an engineered version of a naturally occurring molecular factor called Stromal cell-Derived Factor-1 (SDF-1) that promotes tissue repair. Although it occurs naturally in the body, the period of time the body produces SDF-1 following injury is relatively brief. When applied at the site of a surface wound, the drug sustains SDF-1’s healing properties for a longer period, reducing healing time, scarring, and possible complications.
SironRX is a spinoff of the privately-held biotechnology company Juventas Therapeutics, which licensed the drug’s intellectual property from Cleveland Clinic in 2007. Juventas has been developing JVS-100 for use in cardiovascular applications and recently completed enrollment of a 17-person Phase I heart failure study. The drug has been well tolerated by all patients to date, with complete safety and efficacy results available in Q2 2011. The company has also received authorization from the Food & Drug Administration to initiate a Phase II clinical trial to evaluate the safety and efficacy for use of JVS-100 to treat patients with critical limb ischemia. During pre-clinical studies, the company discovered that a topical version of JVS-100 had potential to accelerate repair and reduce scar formation in full-thickness dermal wounds.
“JumpStart has come to know the management team of SironRX very well over the past three years through our work with Juventas,” says Michael Lang, the JumpStart Venture Partner who will now be working with SironRX. “This team has advanced JVS-100 from the lab through completion of early-stage clinical trials in humans and has raised more than $10 million in funding to do so. We’re confident in the team’s ability to take SironRX through a similar accelerated commercialization process.”
SironRX Therapeutics will use the funding, which is part of a larger fundraising round, to work toward initiation of a Phase II clinical trial evaluating the potential of JVS-100 to promote wound repair and prevent scarring in post-surgical wounds. Pre-clinical studies have demonstrated that there may be broader dermal applications for JVS-100, including treatment of chronic ulcers and burns.
“Following our original publication demonstrating the cardiovascular therapeutic potential for SDF-1 following a heart attack, several groups have gone on to show that the SDF-1 repair pathway is well-conserved in a broad range of end-organ systems, including the brain, kidney, peripheral vasculature, and dermis,” said Marc Penn, M.D., Ph.D. who is the company’s Chief Scientific Officer and Director of the Skirball Cardiovascular Cell Therapy Laboratory at Cleveland Clinic.
“We are pleased to collaborate with JumpStart again to jointly finance another promising Cleveland Clinic spin-off company. Our 35 spinoffs have now secured nearly half a billion dollars in equity financing, a real market endorsement of the quality of the technology developed by Cleveland Clinic physicians and scientists,” said Chris Coburn, Executive Director for Cleveland Clinic Innovations.
This investment represents JumpStart Ventures’ 74th investment in its 53rd company and SironRX is one of 35 Cleveland Clinic spinoffs that have raised more than $450 million in equity financing.
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