Press release

Iproteos, the first biotech to launch an equity crowdfunding campaign in Spain
Iproteos team
The Catalan biotech Iproteos –based at the Parc Cientific de Barcelona– has launched an innovative funding campaign based on equity crowdfunding- through the platform– which aims to raise 100,000 € to complete the non-regulatory preclinical stage of its compound IPR019. This compound is one of the 20 drugs across the world that is being developed to slow-down the progression of schizophrenia and revert the cognitive deficits of this disease.
Equity crowdfunding is a method to raise funds for projects where small investors obtain, in return for their contributions, shares in the company instead of other considerations or compensations, as it is usually done in traditional crowdfunding. This type of campaigns is growing exponentially worldwide. It is expected that in 2014 about 10,000 million dollars will be raised to be used in more than 2 million of social, cultural and business projects.

Iproteos, created in 2011 as a spin-off of the Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona) and the University of Barcelona, is the first company that employs this strategy to finance a biotechnology project in Spain.

"We want to be pioneers in Spain to establish a new funding strategy for young companies, which is already being implemented in Europe with great success. In France and the UK, it is a fairly widespread movement in the biotechnology sector. Even companies that are raising tens of millions of dollars through other sources of capital, use crowdfunding rounds to gain visibility, increase their portfolio of clients, or validate their business. In our case, the small investor can contribute starting from 300 euros and get a share of the company in return. These funds will enable us to attract future investments in order to advance regulatory and preclinical clinical trials with patients and license the drug in 2016", says Teresa Tarragó, CEO and founder of Iproteos.

A third-generation drug

Schizophrenia is a severe form of mental illness that affects around 7 per thousand of the world's population (about 24 million people), and is usually established around ages of 15 to 35 years, according to data from the World Health Organization (WHO). Nowadays, there are no drugs currently on the market aimed at treating the cognitive symptoms of schizophrenia. Current available antipsychotic drugs treat positive symptoms (delusions, hallucinations, etc.) and negative symptoms (slurred or difficulty of speech, inappropriate emotions, etc.), while only some drugs, the -so called atypical antipsychotics- can alleviate few aspects of cognitive deficits, but causing serious side effects.

Iproteos IPR019 is the most advanced project of the spin-off. It consists in the development of a last-generation cognitive enhancer that has already demonstrated its efficacy, with very positive results, in animal models of the disease. It has achieved to improve learning and memory abilities affected by schizophrenia, which does not happen with the administration of current available treatments.

Furthermore, its mechanism of action is completely different, meaning that it a 'first in class' drug. It is a third-generation drug, at the interface between those traditionally used and second-generation drugs (protein drugs). It is derived from molecules named peptides that block the action of proteases and that are capable of crossing the blood-brain barrier, a protective system in the brain that, so far, the vast majority of drugs on the market have not been able to cross.

"Peptides are a class of highly specific and selective drugs with very low toxicity. If they are compared to protein drugs, they are less costly to manufacture, since they can be obtained by chemical synthesis. In addition, another relevant advantage is that peptides can reach the brain and be administered orally or subcutaneously, which makes them much more versatile than protein drugs", says Ernest Giralt, co-founder and chairman of the Scientific Advisory Committee.

For the development of this type of drugs, Tarragó and Giralt have combined their extensive experience in the research of peptides and proteases using in silico design techniques and the most innovative technologies in peptide synthesis: such as their proprietary IPRO technology, a combination of computer and biotechnology tools developed by Iproteos itself for the computer modeling of biological processes.

To carry out their projects, Iproteos has been supported by the Department of Business and Employment of the Generalitat of Catalonia- through the Assessment Units of ACCIÓ, the agency for business competitiveness of Catalan companies-, and the Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness through the Incorpora subprogram and a Neotec project from the Center for Industrial Technological Development (CDTI).

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Tags: pcb, iproteos,
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