16 May 2020, Naarden, The Netherlands - Phlox Therapeutics, a biotech spin-off of the Amsterdam University Medical Center founded by prof. dr. Yigal Pinto and prof. dr. Eva van Rooij, with Margien Boels, PhD as its initiating director of operations have announced the closure of its seed investment round. This pre-seed investment will be used to advance Phlox’s lead program focused on rare genetic laminopathies. Funding was provided by FIRST fund, managed by BioGeneration Ventures (BGV).
Existing therapies conspicuously fail to halt the progression of hereditary forms of heart failure. Ironically, this most often concerns young patients, leaving them with a therapyresistant form of heart failure. This includes patients with heart failure caused by mutations in the lamin A/C gene, also known as laminopathies, a distinct and often aggressive form of heart failure. Phlox’s technology uses smart RNA-designs that allow for parallel targeting of multiple Lamin A/C mutations. The versatile nature of these RNA-designs, developed by the Amsterdam UMC team, prevents the need for generating mutation specific compounds to treat each unique mutation, making these compounds efficacious for the majority of patients harboring a Lamin A/C mutation. Proof-of-concept experiments show that these compounds can induce highly selective and favorable therapeutic effects in human stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes from patients suffering from laminopathy. Next to mutations in Lamin A/C, Phlox Therapeutics aims to apply its smart designs to adjacent treatmentresistant cardiomyopathies. Yigal Pinto, cardiologist and CMO of Phlox Therapeutics: “My aspiration for initiating Phlox was triggered when I started to treat a large family with an aggressive mutation in the Lamin A/C gene, causing a severe type of heart failure that did not respond to our commonly used therapies. This harsh reality drove my team and I to seek new opportunities to relieve the burden of this gene mutation. Current developments in RNA therapeutics have greatly accelerated our efforts to develop our proprietary technology to target the root cause of the problem in patients with mutations in the Lamin A/C gene. Therefore, I am very excited to collaborate with the dedicated Phlox Therapeutics team and partners to further progress this technology making it available for our patients that are suffering from this destructive disease.”
The team highly appreciates the support from the investors to help realize next development steps in order to potentially impact patient lives for whom a cure is currently not available. Rianne Ellenbroek, PhD, Investment Manager of FIRST commented: “We are very excited to support the Phlox Therapeutics team on their journey to bring this innovative technology one step closer to patients that suffer from these devastating genetic cardiomyopathies.”
About Fonds InvesteringsRijpe Starters FIRST
Fonds InvesteringsRijpe STarters (FIRST) is a pre-seed fund that finances pioneering scientists in The Netherlands active in the emerging fields of regenerative medicine and cardiovascular diseases. FIRST is founded by the Dutch CardioVascular Alliance (DCVA) and Regenerative Medicine Crossing Borders (RegMed XB) with support of the Netherlands Enterprise Agency. BioGeneration Ventures (BGV) supports the FIRST fund as registered fund manager, making available its network, expertise, and facilities. For more information, please visit: www.biogenerationventures.com/first.
About Phlox Therapeutics
Phlox Therapeutics is a spin-off from the Department of Experimental Cardiology of the Amsterdam University Medical Center. Support of the Dutch CardioVascular Alliance (DCVA) was instrumental in its (scientific) foundation. Next to its program on laminopathies, Phlox Therapeutics is aiming to leverage similar RNA-based strategies to target other cardiomyopathies. As such, Phlox Therapeutics strives to develop multiple gene therapies that are able to reduce the negative effects caused by genetic mutations. For more information, please visit: www.phloxtherapeutics.com.