Bristol, UK 13 February 2006, Lectus Therapeutics Ltd (“Lectus”), a drug discovery and development company focusing on next-generation ion channel modulators, today announced that it has raised £8.2 million in Series A funding. The round was led by Sofinnova Partners, with Quester as a co-lead. Takeda Research Investment, Inc., the corporate venture arm of Takeda Pharmaceutical Company Ltd, also participated in the round, following up a seed investment made in April 2004 . Astellas Venture Management, the venture capital arm of Astellas Pharma Inc, also participated in the round.
Lectus’s mission is to discover and develop first and best in class next-generation ion channel drugs to treat pain, urinary incontinence and angina. The new funds will be used to advance the company’s existing programs initiated though exploitation of its proprietary proteomics research engine (LEPTICS) and to provide opportunities for commercial partnerships with pharma companies. Lectus was founded with seed funding from the Sulis Seed Corn Fund, which is managed by Quester.
Ion channels are proteins that control the flow of ions, such as sodium, calcium and potassium, into and out of mammalian cells. They are integral to muscle movement, nerve impulse transmission and cardiovascular function. Historically, drugs targeting ion channels have been very successful and still generate well in excess of $6 billion in sales per annum. In recent years however, efforts at identifying novel ion channel therapeutics have focussed on targeting the pore forming domains of ion channels and despite billions of dollars spent in R&D, this approach has not yielded further significant clinical success. This is believed to be mainly because of the side effects associated with the lack of specificity of this approach. Lectus’s next-generation ion channel therapeutics, selectively targeting ion channel accessory proteins, are anticipated to have a significantly enhanced safety profile with resultant therapeutic and economic benefits.
Dr Roland Kozlowski, CEO of Lectus commented: “Lectus is delighted to announce the biggest European Series A funding for a discovery/research stage company since the end of 2004 . Lectus is now backed by a blue chip syndicate of international investors as well as the two biggest pharmaceutical companies in Japan. This represents a tremendous endorsement of the company’s scientific and commercial strategy. Our success in this funding round will position Lectus to lead a paradigm shift in ion channel drug discovery and development.”
“Sofinnova is pleased to have led this A round in Lectus Therapeutics. We believe that their next-generation ion channel modulators will soon prove their enormous potential as new drug candidates. In addition, Lectus’s management team combines decades of biotech and pharmaceutical experience, which will be essential to bring their drugs through development” said Antoine Papiernik, Managing Partner at Sofinnova.
“Lectus is an example of the type of high quality early stage investment opportunity that originates from the university sector. It is encouraging to see companies, such as Lectus, securing Series A funding from leading international investors” said Iain Wilcock, Deputy Managing Director at Quester.