The biotechnology start-up will be at Alhambra Venture 2019

Around 250 million people live with visual disabilities worldwide. Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD) and Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP) are two of the diseases that cause visual impairment and blindness. They are pathologies with great impact on an important and growing segment of the population, but with little or no treatment. In particular, for RP there is only one treatment based on gene therapy with a price of $ 850,000 -really not affordable for the average patient-, it is also only indicated for a certain type of RP patients, and for AMD in its dry variant There is effective treatment today. Existing treatments for the wet version of the disease are expensive, both from the point of view of health care and the social cost.

The first products of Limno Pharma, (LIM21 and LIM109), obtained after successive screening of 75 new derivatives with stilbene structure, are aimed at the treatment of RP and DMAE. In fact, administration to diseased mice has been shown to improve the symptoms of both diseases by combining anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective effects. Juan Carlos Morales, founding partner of Limno Pharma and scientific researcher at CSIC, is the main driver of the project and the person who had the initial idea. The compounds of interest have been designed and synthesized in their laboratory within the framework of different research projects.

The results obtained with these compounds in animal models of different diseases by Francisco Díaz Corrales, a researcher at the Andalusian Center for Molecular Biology and Regenerative Medicine in Seville and also a founding partner of Limno Pharma, led to this business initiative.

Natalia Pérez Hernández and David Alcántara Parra, both doctors in Chemistry and with experience in various R&D fields, are the remaining founding partners. In the case of David Alcántara, the start-up and management of an own R&D consulting company is relevant, as well as the knowledge acquired by his work in that field. Natalia Pérez, currently a professor at the University of Seville, brings more than 15 years of experience in scientific research and project management in both the public and private sectors.

The project emerged in mid-2017, after the analysis of the good results obtained in the framework of the scientific research carried out in the laboratories of Dr. Juan Carlos Morales and Dr. Francisco Díaz Corrales and the verification of the potential of the molecules studied in animal models (mice), as possible treatments for ophthalmological diseases in humans. Given the scope of even a part of the process of developing a drug, it was highlighted the need to create a different entity that can take the necessary steps to carry out this task. The four promoters of the company addressed different tasks, mainly, the preparation of the business plan and the financial projection, as well as the contact with different investors, with the advice and support of BIC Granada. The company was incorporated in March 2019.

The Limno Pharma business model involves developing the validation of therapies both in preclinical phases and early clinical phases, so that from a certain moment they are pharmaceutical companies of much greater size and with greater resources and experience those that end this process and carry out the marketing of the medicine. The main beneficiaries will be, once this point is reached, the patients of the aforementioned diseases and the management of the distribution of medicines, which will depend on the health system of each country (insurance companies, ophthalmological clinics, national health systems … ).

Market size

In the short term, this project is aimed at investors for whom the entry into Limno Pharma represents an interesting business opportunity given the magnitude of the market involved.

The main competitive advantages of the product are the following: Novel technology protected under patent by the CSIC and the FPS with exclusive and worldwide license for Limno Pharma, freedom to operate in relation to existing related medications, proven efficacy for the treatment of RP and AMD dry in animal models, treatments based on small molecules derived from natural products, in contrast to existing ones or many of those that are currently in clinical phases, mainly biological molecules or based on gene therapy, simple manufacturing molecules and low cost, possibility of topical administration through eye drops or ointment and therefore long-term viable treatments due to non-aggressive administration, and lack of treatment for RP and dry AMD at present.

RP is a rare disease, which speeds up the processing and regulatory aspects by the agencies responsible for the approval of medicines considered ‘orphan drug’. RP affects about 200,000 patients in the EU and the US. Taking as reference the current costs of treatments, the market volume would be 4 billion dollars a year. On the other hand, also considering only the US and the EU, the market opportunity is around 243 billion dollars a year for dry AMD and 27 billion dollars a year for wet AMD, with much higher prevalence in the population.

There is a remarkable balance in the composition of this startup team. All components have an important scientific base to which experience in other fields is added. The people who promoted the project and in whose laboratories it was born, are part as founding partners and scientific advisors. In addition, there is a person with previous and proven experience as entrepreneurs and another person with experience in R&D in the public and private sector, scientific communication and project management.

Limno Pharma is in full search of seed capital (500,000 euros), mainly to be able to address the CMC (Chemistry, Manufacturing and Controls) phase, and non-regulatory preclinical validation. Since November 2018, Genesis Biomed has been collaborating with us, both in support in the search for financing and in consulting tasks. In addition, Genesis Biomed has invested in Limno Pharma in its initial stage to help start the company and take the first steps.

The licenses of the two patents of the CSIC and FPS that constitute the technological base of Limno Pharma have been signed. The entry into national phases of patents in the most relevant countries has also been processed. In these months, they are developing the experiments that will allow to finish elucidating the compound, the route of administration and the first indication that lead to more immediate results and, therefore, with a better perspective from the point of view of the investment in this very early phase. of the project.

«Our road map once the seed capital has been achieved and the corresponding tasks completed would be to carry out the preclinical regulatory phase and meet the requirements that allow the approval by the corresponding agencies for the development of the initial clinical phases. We have estimated the total cost for this at about 2.5 million euros, ”they explain from the address.

Font: of Granada