- Novartis Venture Fund, the venture capital unit of the Swiss pharma giant, and Dublin-based Fountain Healthcare Partners have put up $17 million in Series A financing backing an Irish startup hoping to develop treatments for chronic inflammatory diseases.
- Inflazome, also based in Dublin, coalesced from a collaboration between Matthew Cooper, a chemist and cofounder of two other biotechs, and Luke O'Neill, a professor of biochemistry at Trinity College Dublin.
- Managing directors from both Novartis Venture Fund and Fountain will join Cooper and O'Neill on the board of directors at Inflazome. Jeremy Skillington, a former Genentech exec, will join on as VP of business development.
Similar to other large pharmas, Novartis keeps an eye on emerging biotech through its corporate venture capital arm, Novartis Venture Fund, which currently manages around $750 million in early-stage investments.
Most of the Fund's investments are in U.S.-based companies, with about a third of investments directed at companies located in Europe, according to last year's annual report.
So far this year, three companies backed (in part) by Novartis Venture Fund have gone public: Aeglea Biotherapeutics, Proteostasis Therapeutics and Qurient Therapeutics. (Qurient listed on KOSDAQ.)
Other recent successes include Heptares Therapeutics (bought by Sosei Group in 2015) and Tokai Pharmaceuticals (went public in 2014).
Inflazome plans to develop inhibitors of what it calls the "inflammasome," in hopes to finding treatments for a range of chronic inflammatory diseases.
"We have searched extensively for inhibitors of the inflammasome. We are very excited by Inflazome's prospects; the company has outstanding assets, expertise and capabilities," said Florent Gros, managing director at Novartis Venture Fund.