High-Tech Gründerfonds invests in a novel Hepatits B compound
German Biotech MYR GmbH develops the viral entry inhibitor Myrcludex, a so-called „first-in-class“ drug for the treatment of chronic hepatitis B and D infections. The HTGF investment of 500,000 € enables the start of Phase 1 of clinical development already in summer 2011.
MYR develops its lead compound in close collaboration with the University Clinic Heidelberg, one of the world-leading centers for biomedical research. The pre-clinical studies have been successfully completed. Myrcludex was well tolerated in animal studies of up to 6 months duration and has shown high efficacy in test systems for HBV and HDV. Myrcludex inhibits the entry of both viruses into liver cells („entry inhibitor“). The program was supported by a grant of the German Ministery for Education and Research (BMBF) and is now supported by a grant from the National Center for Tumor Diseases (NCT) Heidelberg. Prof. Stephan Urban (University Clinic Heidelberg), inventor of Myrcludex and coordinator of the BMBF-consortium: „This project is a prime example of how university-based translational research in cooperation with industrial support can find its way into the clinic”. The company has recently submitted the application for the start of the phase 1 clinical trial. The study will be performed at the University Clinic Heidelberg.
Dr. Bernd Gorgen, Senior Investment Manager of the High-Tech Gründerfonds comments the investment decision: „We are extraordinarily pleased that our participation helps to push the development of a highly innovative drug candidate to fight a virus which still represents a major threat to human health on a global basis“.
About the HBV infection
The importance of the HBV infection is underestimated in the developed countries, as a highly effective universal prophylactic vaccination is available. However, due to world-wide 360,000,000 chronically infected people and 650,000 HBV-related deaths per year, HBV infection still remains a huge medical and economical problem. HBV is after tobacco the second most important human cancer-causing agent. 5-10% of chronically HBV-infected patients suffer from a co-infection with hepatitis D virus (HDV). Hepatitis D is the most severe viral hepatitis; 80% of HDV-infected people do not have any therapeutic options. Prof. Heiner Wedemeyer, liver expert from Hannover Medical School: „ Myrcludex could become a future treatment option for hepatitis delta“.
Myrcludex inhibits the essential HBV receptor on the liver cell surface and thus prevents the infection of the healthy cells and viral spreading in the liver. Entry inhibitors are well established in treatment of viral infections (Celsentri®, Relenza®). During the chronic HBV infection new liver cells constantly become infected. By the treatment with an entry inhibitor, this new infection may be inhibited and the number of the infected cells should significantly decline within few months. The immune system could then regain the control over the infection and the long-term treatment with viral replication inhibitors could be omitted or significantly shortened. HDV is using the HBV receptor to get into the cell. As expected, Myrcludex has shown great efficacy against HDV in preclinical tests. The clinical development will start with a Phase 1 trial in healthy volunteers. The completion of Phase 1 and the start of the „proof-of-concept“ Phase 2 study are planned for 2012.
About the MYR GmbH
The company located in Burgwedel near Hannover was founded in 2010 and holds the world-wide exclusive product rights for Myrcludex. Currently, the company has 2 employees who are focused on the coordination of the network of academic partners and vendors involved in the Myrcludex development. Dr. Alexander Alexandrov, MYR CSO: „We have established a very successful public-private partnership giving birth to a promising and efficient Biotech-company“.
About High-Tech Gründerfonds
High-Tech Gründerfonds invests venture capital in promising technology companies that turn innovative concepts into viable businesses. Seed financing aims to help start-ups guide their innovation to the prototype or proof-of-concept stage or to market launch. High-Tech Gründerfonds provides seed financing of approximately €500,000. It supports high-tech companies by way of its investment managers and its highly-qualified network of coaches, investors and specialists. In individual cases it can invest up to a total of €2 m per company. The investors in this public private partnership are the German Federal Ministry for Business and Technology, the KfW Banking Group as well as the six industrial groups of BASF, Deutsche Telekom, Siemens, Robert Bosch, Daimler and Carl Zeiss. High-Tech Gründerfonds has an investment volume totalling approx. €272 m.
High-Tech Gründerfonds Management GmbH
Dr. Bernd Goergen
Senior Investment Manager
Phone: +49 228 82300100
Fax: +49 228 82300050