Fundraising to fuel e-Therapeutics’ ‘network pharmacology’
Drug discovery and development firm e-Therapeutics hopes to raise £40 million via a new share offer to fund its research in cancer and depressive disorders.
The UK firm has its headquarters in Newcastle and research facilities near Oxford. The company’s ‘big idea’ is network pharmacology - a technique of determining how a network of proteins influence a given disease, as opposed to the traditional approach of trying to isolate a single drug target.
Researchers then use chemical biology to identify molecules capable of targeting that set of proteins.
The company plans to spend about £25m on its lead candidate, ETS2101, which is in Phase I clinical trials on cancer patients in the US and UK. Preliminary data from the Phase I trial will be available by the end of this year; if the data is encouraging, it could help validate not only the cancer drug but e-Therapeutic’s entire network pharmacology technology platform.
The company says the planned share issue, combined with existing cash resources means it will have funds to continue its R&D efforts until 2017. Its leadership believe this will give plenty of time for it to find a big pharma partner with whom e-Therapeutics can strike a development and marketing deal for ETS2101.
Dr Daniel Elger, chief financial officer of e-Therapeutics, added: “This fundraising provides us with the resources needed for significant investment in new drug discovery and to take our lead cancer drug ETS2101 through efficacy-focused trials that could lead to a lucrative licensing deal.”
The firm says it will use its funding to complete Phase I trials for ETS2101 and advance the drug seamlessly into Phase II in brain cancer (glioma) and a Phase Ib/II trial that will explore the drug’s activity in four to six other cancer indications.
One other candidate is in clincial trials, with a third pre-clinical candidate being considered. ETS6103 is a drug for major depressive disorder, which has produced encouraging data in a small Phase IIa study in which it was compared with the tricyclic antidepressant amitriptyline. The next step is a Phase IIb trial which will evaluate a range of dosing options, due to begin in the second quarter of 2013.
The other molecule is ETX1153c, a product that combines two active ingredients to combat the bacterium C. difficile, a cause of serious bowel infections. The combination of ingredients in ETX1153c yields both high potency and low rates of resistance, but the firm has faced practical issues in formulating them into a single tablet. Pre-clinical work is ongoing and e-Therapeutics expects to make a decision on advancing the candidate into the clinic in mid-2013.
It also wants more investment in its network pharmacology platform, which it believes could yield many more new drug candidates, and also wants to advance molecules currently in pre-clinical development.
Professor Malcolm Young, chief executive of e-Therapeutics, said: “We appreciate the continuing support of existing investors and are also pleased to have attracted significant new investors to the company. With our financial position secure we are well placed to build further shareholder value based on our innovative platform and product portfolio.”