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Iproteos, the first biotech to launch an equity crowdfunding campaign in Spain

By 1 de July de 2014November 18th, 2020No Comments
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Teresa Tarragó (in the center of the image) with the Iproteos team. © PCB.

Iproteos, the first biotech to launch an equity crowdfunding campaign in Spain

The Catalan biotech Iproteos –based in the Parc Cientific de Barcelona (PCB)– 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 in the world that are being developed to slow-down the progression of schizophrenia and revert the cognitive deficits of this condition. Iproteos is a spin-off created in 2011 by two Catalan leading scientists in the field of therapeutic peptides, Teresa Tarragó and Ernest Giralt, based on the transfer of a technology generated at Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona) and the University of Barcelona (UB). In addition, the Bosch i Gimpera Foundation (FBG) has given advice on the definition of the business plan and negotiated the technology.

“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 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 , 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).