BioWorld International Correspondent
PARIS - Endotis Pharma raised €4 million in its first funding round, which was entirely subscribed by Sofinnova Partners.
Endotis Pharma, which is based in Lille, France, was founded in February 2003 by David Béchard, its chairman and CEO. Its activities up to now have been financed by subsidies totaling €1.5 million advanced by the French Research Promotion Agency (Anvar), said Rafaèle Tordjman, the investment manager at Sofinnova Partners, of Paris.
Endotis Pharma is specialized in therapeutic glycoscience, which it is using to discover and develop new therapies for cancer and inflammatory diseases. Starting from the fact that more than 80 percent of the body's cell surface and secreted proteins are coated in sugars (glycans), the company is exploiting its expertise in the area of protein-sugar interactions to synthesize sugars able to regulate or disrupt those interactions.
Its therapeutic strategy is to modulate the biological activities and the bioavailability of sugar-binding molecules involved in life-threatening diseases by modulating protein-sugar interactions, either with biological drugs or a new class of small molecules, or synthetic sugars, called small glyco-drugs.
The company has developed a proprietary technology platform based on synthetic and medicinal sugar chemistry to synthesize small glyco-drugs. The platform already has enabled the company to generate leads in two small glycol-drug programs, one of which is devoted to oncology and the other to inflammatory diseases. In addition, it has a third program involving the development of therapeutic antibodies against a novel and proprietary proteoglycan called Endocan, which plays a role in the progression of breast and colon cancer, in particular, and was discovered by the company's founders.
Tordjman described Endotis as "one of the very few firms that have the expertise to design small glycol-drugs." She said one of the company's two oncology programs would enter preclinical development in 2005 and that the first product would be in the clinic within two to two and a half years.
She added that the latest funding was sufficient to finance Endotis Pharma's development for another 12 months and that Sofinnova already was planning for a second funding round, which would aim to raise €15 million and would bring in other investors.
Endotis has a work force of 13 and has a chemistry laboratory in Paris in addition to its offices in Lille. The company has concluded several collaboration agreements with research institutions, including the French Center for Scientific Research and the French Atomic Energy Agency.