Press Release (ePRNews.com) - CAMBRIDGE, England - Dec 20, 2018 - Morphogen-IX Ltd, a biotechnology company focused on the development of bone morphogenetic proteins (BMPs) for the treatment of pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH), today announced completion of a £18.4 million round of financing. The Series B was led by Medicxi, alongside investments from Cambridge Innovation Capital and Cambridge Enterprise.
This investment will support formal preclinical development of its lead candidate, MGX292, and initiation of clinical trials by 2021. MGX292 is a protein-engineered variant of BMP9 that has proven highly efficacious and safe in extensive preclinical studies. MGX292 is the first agent with the potential to be truly disease-modifying and to transform the lives of patients with PAH.
Nick Morrell, Morphogen-IX co-founder and CEO, said, “This major investment, following closely on the nomination of MGX292 as our drug candidate, will support the critical next steps of preclinical development and take us all the way through to completion of Phase 2 studies over the next three to four years. MGX292 has major disease-modifying capability that is badly needed for patients suffering from pulmonary arterial hypertension.”
David Grainger, chairman of the Morphogen-IX board and chief scientific advisor at Medicxi, said, “The power of human genetics identifying the centrality of BMP9 in PAH, together with structure-driven engineering to create a protein that can be administered safely, places Morphogen-IX in a world-leading position to develop the first agent capable of halting, or even reversing, the progress of this terrible disease. We are working with many of the world’s leading experts in PAH to get MGX292, already the subject of patent applications, into the clinic as quickly as possible.”
Kevin Johnson, partner at Medicxi, commented, “MGX292 has the potential to transform the outlook for patients with PAH. We look forward to executing the next phases of development as efficiently and quickly as possible.”
Robert Tansley, operating partner at Cambridge Innovation Capital, commented, “CIC is delighted to continue to support Morphogen-IX, a company built on the world-leading science of Professor Morrell and his team, to translate this potentially transformative medicine into the clinic.”
Anne Dobrée, head of seed funds at Cambridge Enterprise, said, “It is exciting to see outstanding and impactful research spun-out from the University of Cambridge taking a step closer to bringing a therapeutic benefit to patients.”
About Morphogen-IX Ltd. Morphogen-IX has developed protein-engineered forms of bone morphogenetic protein 9 (BMP9), conferring potent protection of the blood vessels in the lung, whilst lacking the bone-inducing properties of the native protein. BMP9 has shown strong preclinical efficacy in the reversal of PAH. This approach is based on targeting the central pathway underlying PAH identified in human genetic studies, pioneered in the British Heart Foundation-funded laboratory of Professor Nick Morrell at the University of Cambridge, who is now CEO at Morphogen-IX, together with co-founders Dr. Wei Li and Dr. Paul Upton. The company, founded in 2015, operates a virtual research and development model from its headquarters on the Babraham Research Campus, south of Cambridge, U.K.
About pulmonary arterial hypertension. PAH is a rare disease characterized by narrowing and obliteration of small pulmonary arteries, resulting in a severe elevation of pulmonary artery pressure and ultimately right heart failure. Patients typically present with progressive breathlessness on exertion. The mortality remains high despite currently licensed therapies that target vasoconstriction. In many patients, the disease has a genetic cause that reduces the protective function of the BMP9 protein in the blood. Approximately 25 percent of patients with idiopathic and familial PAH carry mutations in components of the BMP9 signaling pathway.
About Medicxi. Medicxi is based in London, Geneva and Jersey. The firm’s mission is to invest across the full healthcare continuum. Medicxi was established by the former Index Ventures life sciences team and continues to manage the legacy life sciences portfolio of Index Ventures. Medicxi has launched two funds – Medicxi Ventures 1 (MV1) and Medicxi Growth 1 (MG1) – that focus respectively on early-stage and late-stage investments in life sciences.
GSK, Johnson & Johnson and Novartis, three of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies, back Medicxi along with Verily, an Alphabet company. These companies, whilst participating in the SABs of the Medicxi funds, do not receive any preferential rights to the portfolio companies.
Medicxi’s team has been investing in life sciences for over 20 years and has backed many successful companies, including PanGenetics (sold to AbbVie), Micromet (sold to Amgen),, XO1 (sold to Janssen), Padlock Therapeutics (sold to Bristol-Myers Squibb) and Impact Biomedicines (sold to Celgene).
Please see www.medicxi.com for more information.
About Cambridge Enterprise. A wholly owned subsidiary of the University of Cambridge, Cambridge Enterprise Limited is responsible for the commercialisation of University intellectual property. It provides access to early-stage capital through the Cambridge Enterprise Seed Funds, University of Cambridge Enterprise Funds and Cambridge Enterprise Venture Partners, and offers business planning, mentoring and related programmes. Activities include management and licensing of intellectual property and patents, proof-of-concept funding and support for University staff and research groups wishing to provide expert advice or facilities to public and private sector organisations. For more information, please visit www.enterprise.cam.ac.uk.
About Cambridge Innovation Capital plc. CIC combines a unique relationship with the University of Cambridge with deep financial and industry links to support rapidly growing intellectual property-rich companies in the Cambridge Cluster. The company is committed to building leading businesses from brilliant technologies, with the benefit of some of the most influential figures in the sector and a patient capital structure.
For more information, visit www.cicplc.co.uk or follow us on Twitter at @CambsInnovation.