Forendo Pharma: a new drug development company started in Turku with focus on endometriosis and male low testosterone
Turku June 25th, 2013. Forendo Pharma OY has announced today that it has closed its first investment round with the leading Nordic start-up investors Karolinska Development AB, Novo Seeds and Finnvera. The tranched funding commitments together with funding from Tekes will reach 10 million euros. Forendo Pharma has acquired from Hormos Medical the drug development programs for endometriosis and male low testosterone.
The potential new treatment of endometriosis is based on inhibition of the 17B-HSD1 enzyme, a novel drug target for tissue/organ specific regulation of hormone activity. The concept has been developed together with scientists in University of Turku and Turku University Hospital led by Professor Matti Poutanen and Adjunct Professor Antti Perheentupa. This program is currently in pre-clinical development.
Endometriosis is a common disease, affecting up to 10% of young and middle-aged women causing painful symptoms and infertility. This chronic disease continues to cause also financial burden to societies through repeated surgeries and lost working days.
The development program for the treatment of men with low testosterone levels is based on Fispemifene, invented by Hormos. Fispemifene has already demonstrated efficacy in first clinical studies in patients. In contrast to testosterone replacement therapy, Fispemifene treatment offers a new approach by stimulating testicular function in men. This oral treatment offers multiple benefits over the current therapies e.g. with potential to maintain the male fertility. Forendo Pharma is planning to develop this program together with partners.
The new company will be run by the core team from Hormos Medical with Risto Lammintausta as CEO. Forendo Pharma will operate with personnel of 10 people in Turku and Oulu in Finland.
“We are very proud to have the leading start-up investors on board. They offer extensive drug development expertise and broad international contacts to secure the success of Forendo Pharma. The investment is expected to bring the endometriosis product through clinical proof of concept and fispemifene through global partnering”, says Risto Lammintausta, CEO of Forendo Pharma.
“Forendo Pharma’s “first-in-man” therapeutic concept offers a potential opportunity to develop more effective and safe treatment for endometriosis. The core team has unique experience to bring a new compound up to the US approval as demonstrated with ospemifene recently”, says Stephan Christgau, investment director in Novo Seeds.
“We see this as an excellent opportunity to invest in a drug development program which has the potential to provide endometriosis patients with an entirely new effective and well tolerated treatment expected to have many benefits compared to current treatment options. In parallel we will support the process of finding a partner for the further development of fispemifene”, says Torbjörn Bjerke, CEO of Karolinska Development.
“Finnvera sees significant international potential in both the novel endometriosis drug and fispemifene. As investor it wants to support the development of the programs”, tells investment manager Kalle Åström.
For further information, please contact:
Risto Lammintausta, CEO, Forendo Pharma OY
Phone: +358 40 310 8010, e-mail: risto.lammintausta <at> forendo.com
Stephan Christgau, Investment Director, Novo Seeds, Novo A/S
Phone: +45 3527 6590, e-mail: scga <at> novo.dk
Torbjörn Bjerke, CEO, Karolinska Development AB
Phone: +46 72 744 41 23, e-mail: torbjorn.bjerke <at> karolinskadevelopment.com
Kalle Åström, Investment Manager, Finnvera
Phone: +358 29 460 2747, e-mail:kalle.astrom <at> finnvera.fi
TO THE EDITORS
About Forendo Pharma
Forendo Pharma is a newly established drug development company based in Turku, Finland. Its core competence resides in organ specific hormone mechanisms, giving new opportunities to unmet needs in women ́s and men ́s health. The company’s key assets are fispemifene, a program with positive Phase II data aimed at treatment of low testosterone levels, and 17B-HSD1 enzyme inhibitors, aimed at treatment of endometriosis and based on research at the University of Turku. Both programs have been acquired from Hormos Medical Oy, where the fispemifene program was developed. The founding team includes leading academic professionals in endocrinology and pioneers within Finnish drug development. Further update at www.forendo.com
About Novo Seeds
Novo Seeds is the early stage investment arm of Novo A/S. Novo A/S, the holding company in the Novo Group, is responsible for the management of the assets of the Novo Nordisk Foundation, which are currently valued at more than USD 30 billion. Novo A/S is a private limited liability company fully owned by the Novo Nordisk Foundation.
Besides being the major shareholder in Novo Nordisk A/S and Novozymes A/S, Novo A/S provides seed and venture capital to development stage companies and takes significant ownership positions in well-established companies, within life science and biotechnology, as well as manages a broad portfolio of financial assets. For further information visit www.novo.dk
About Karolinska Development AB
Karolinska Development aims to create value for investors, patients, and researchers by developing innovations from world class science into products that can be sold or out-licensed with high returns. The business model is to: SELECT the most commercially attractive medical innovations; DEVELOP innovations to the stage where the greatest return on investment can be achieved; and COMMERCIALIZE the innovations through the sale of companies or out-licensing of products. An exclusive deal flow agreement with Karolinska Institutet Innovations AB, along with other cooperation agreements with leading Nordic universities, delivers a continuous flow of innovations. Today, the portfolio consists of 36 projects, of which 15 are in clinical development. For more information, please visit www.karolinskadevelopment.com
Finnvera Venture Capital is the leading early stage VC investor in Finland. Finnvera provides financing for the start, growth and internationalisation of enterprises and guarantees against risks arising from exports. Finnvera is a specialised financing company owned by the State of Finland and it is the official Export Credit Agency (ECA) of Finland. Please find out more at http://www.finnvera.fi/eng/Venture-Capital-Investments