Evotec (Germany) has launched a spin-off, Topas Therapeutics, to create nanoparticle-based therapeutics to treat immunological disorders.
After starting a collaboration for microbiome-related diseases and entering the immuno-oncology field, Evotec is creating a spin-off dedicated to auto-immune diseases.
This new Biotech will be Topas Therapeutics, and is based on a technology that induces liver tolerance to specific antigens. This platform could be used to create breakthrough therapies for a range of autoimmune and inflammatory diseases. These include, for example, rheumatoid arthritis and Crohn’s disease – so it’s an area with high unmet medical needs, and potentially very profitable.
The technology was originally developed at the University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf (UKE), from which resulted a patent and several publications (including in the Journal of Immunology and the Journal of Hepatology).
Topas Therapeutics starts off with €14M, which was raised in its series A round. Evotec is the major shareholder, and other investors include Epidarex Capital (an Edinburgh-based VC with experience in spin-offs), EMBL Ventures (the investment arm of the well-known European Molecular Biology Laboratory) and Gimv (a Belgian VC, that has for example invested in French MedTech).
Topas Therapeutics leading programme is in multiple sclerosis, currently in clinical proof-of-concept stage. The Biotech expects to start its first clinical trials in 2017.
This is an interesting development in Evotec’s strategy. Becoming a shareholder in Topas instead of integrating it in its own R&D pipeline will allow Evotec to split the risk and get more funding – so a faster growth for Topas. Will we be seeing more Evotec spin-offs in the future?