Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Adrenal Insufficiency: University company wins healthy £300k for new Cardiff-based drug

A UNIVERSITY spin-out venture yesterday won a £300,000 investment to support the commercialisation of its product.

Fusion IP, the university commercialisation company which turns university research into business, is investing the money into Diurnal, an innovative, early stage Fusion portfolio company from the University of Sheffield.

Cardiff-based Diurnal is developing a novel approach to drug delivery which will help patients suffering from reduced cortisol and testosterone levels.

The investment is part of a £600,000 funding round in which Finance Wales has also invested £300,000 under its memorandum of understanding with Fusion. Diurnal will have a post-money valuation of £2m.

Diurnal has developed a delayed and sustained release therapy to deliver hydrocortisone in a manner that mimics the body’s normal circadian rhythm – the body’s natural 24 hour hormone cycle.

This therapeutic approach has the potential to help patients with deficiencies in steroid hormones, testosterone, thyroid hormones and associated conditions by regulating metabolism, growth development and puberty, tissue function and in determining mood.

Each of these deficiencies requires life-long treatment and Diurnal’s approach to drug delivery has the potential to drastically improve patients’ lives, according to the company.

Working closely with Penn Pharma, the Tredegar-based pharmaceutical services company, and Simbec Research in Merthyr Tydfil, Diurnal will use the funding to continue to develop its new formulation approach to endocrine therapy and to complete phase one clinical trials of its lead product Chronocort, for adrenal insufficiency in the first half of next year.

The product has already received two related Orphan Drug designations from the European Medicines Agency, which affords 10 years of market exclusivity after the grant of marketing authorisation in Europe.

Martin Whitaker, general manager at Diurnal, said: “Diurnal’s product pipeline has the potential to help many patients with hormone deficiencies that disrupt the body’s natural clock.

“Our lead compound Chronocort is focused on delivering a delayed and sustained release therapy. Following positive pre-clinical results and today’s fundraising, Chronocort is poised to enter phase one clinical trials next year.

“In addition, it has significant market potential and has already received Orphan Drug Designation potentially giving it market exclusivity in Europe.”

Following the fundraising Fusion will have a 51.6% shareholding in Diurnal.

David Baynes, chief executive officer of Fusion IP, said: “Diurnal’s endocrine therapies have great potential for patients suffering from hormone deficiencies.

“Taking Chronocort into phase I clinical trials next year is a major step forward for Diurnal and we are delighted to see the company making such positive progress.”

Jocelyn Brown, Associate at Finance Wales, said: “This latest funding round accelerates Diurnal’s commitment to creating niche therapeutics targeting areas of greatest unmet patient need.

“The continuing success of Diurnal is underpinned by their strong partners within the Welsh biosciences community, and we’re pleased to be investing in such a dynamic, forward-looking company.”

 

From http://www.walesonline.co.uk/business-in-wales/business-news/2009/12/08/university-company-wins-healthy-300k-for-new-cardiff-based-drug-91466-25341981/