Irish Biotech Company Shorla Raises $8.3 Million Series A

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Shorla Pharma, based in Dublin and Clonmel, Ireland, completed a Series A financing round worth $8.3 million. The round was led by Seroba Life Sciences, a European venture capital firm in Dublin. They were joined by Irish and Canadian-based family offices, as well as participation from Enterprise Ireland.

The company’s lead product is SH-111, for T-cell leukemias, although it has three programs, all improvements on established drugs. The company hasn’t disclosed details about the drugs other than to say they are all “established active substances” that have been ”proven from a safety and efficacy perspective.”

The company was founded by Sharon Cunningham and Orlaith Ryan, with “Shorla” being a combination of the two women’s first names. Both were formerly with EirGen Pharma in Waterford, Ireland. EirGen was acquired by Opko for $135 million in 2015.

“We’re delighted to support an Irish company with such a promising pipeline of products designed to improve treatment options for cancer patients,” said Alan O’Connell, a partner at Seroba who has joined Shorla’s board of directors. “Shorla is led by experienced founders with a track record of success in the sector and we look forward to working with them to grow the company and bring their products to market.”

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The first of the company’s two products are SH-111 and SH-105. SH-111 is a sterile injectable therapy for children and adults with leukemia. SH-105 targets breast and ovarian cancers. The company plans to file SH-105 with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) by the end of the year and SH-111 early next year.

The third program is SH-110, a liquid version of a pill for glioma, a form of brain cancer. The company hopes to launch SH-110 in 2022.

“We looked at areas that other people might see as a barrier to entry and saw them as an opportunity,” Ryan told FierceBiotech. “We evaluated the regulatory and clinical landscape and asked, has this drug been in shortage?... Can we take those drugs off the shortage list and create a clinical impact?”

“We are delighted to support Shorla and to be part of this investment round,” said Julie Sinnamon, chief executive officer of Enterprise Ireland. “Ireland is widely recognized as a center for the global life sciences industry as well as a leader in medtech and pharmaceutical manufacturing. Helping to maintain that reputation, Shorla, led by two female founders, is a highly innovative company developing new solutions to critical issues in the oncology area. It is also particularly heartening to see this company starting in a regional location.”

Enterprise Ireland is a government organization to promote the development and growth of Irish enterprises in world market. The organization partners with Irish-based companies to assist them launch, grow, innovate and develop global markets.

Sinnamon added, “Earlier this year, the Enterprise Ireland ‘Action Plan for Women in Business’ cited that less than 10% of VC funding is going to companies with women founders. This investment is consistent with that action plan in terms of developing a larger number of companies of scale led by female founders. It is fantastic to have a role model like Shorla to demonstrate what’s possible. I wish the team luck with the project and congratulate the company on its success to date.”

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