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Update Therapeutics | Q1 2024

State of the Landscape

This is the first update paper of 2024, in which we outline the investment landscape and activity in Therapeutics over Q1. Here, we focus on capital raisings and M&A activity across European companies. We also highlight two interesting deals made over the past three months.

More biotechs get financed, but M&A activity lacks behind

The first quarter of 2024 started out with an increase in the total number of deals compared to the end of 2023 (172 vs. 130), suggesting an increase in investment activity across the Therapeutics landscape.

Besides the number of deals, the total capital invested through VC increased by 11% compared to the last quarter ($1.384M vs $1.242M), with most deals and total capital reserved for growth financing of ventures (Table 1). This is considered logical, taking into account the relatively larger equity demand by more developed ventures. Median deal sizes for seed, start-up and growth companies are $3.9M, $5.1M, and $32.2M respectively.

Interestingly, there have been two IPOs since the start of 2024, halting a dry period of nearly two years where going public was an unfavorable option for most life science companies.

Yet, M&A activity has seen a slight decrease over the last quarter with 49 total deals compared to a total of 61 at the end of 2023. Last years’ quarter consisted of both more acquisitions and asset transactions, with total value exceeding $10B.

Table 1: Details of Q1 2024 Therapeutics deals
Table 1: Details of Q1 2024 Therapeutics deals, (ND = Not disclosed; PIPE = Private Investment In Public Equity, IPO = Initial Public Offering) * = Financials not exhaustive due to non-disclosed deals.
Figure 1: Deal size distribution across company development (Seed, Start-up and Growth/Expansion)

Oncology, Central Nervous System and Cardiovascular therapies account for over 50% of deals

The three usual suspects and largest markets have received 54,8% of all deals this quarter, but account for 44,4% of total VC funds invested. Conversely, therapeutic areas such as immunology (4,1%) have secured less deals but comparatively higher tickets (6,8% of total capital).

Figure 2: investment activity across therapeutic areas
Figure 2: investment activity across therapeutic areas as percentage of total deals.

Highlights

Here, we highlight selected deals to shed more light on reasons to invest and landscape dynamics.

logo Curve Therapeutics

 Curve Therapeutics raises $51M in Series A Financing – 27/02/2024

Curve Therapeutics has recently closed a successful Series A financing round, raising GBP40.5M ($51.33M) with Pfizer Ventures leading the deal and contributions from Columbus Venture Partners and British Patient Capital, among others. This significant investment underlines the promise of Curve’s pioneering work, particularly their Microcycle platform, which facilitates the discovery of biologically active molecules targeting challenging diseases, notably cancer.

This funding infusion is poised to accelerate the development of Curve’s lead assets, including innovative inhibitors like the first-in-class dual-inhibitor of HIF-1 and HIF-2, designed to address survival mechanisms in various solid tumors. Additionally, they are advancing a groundbreaking inhibitor of ATIC dimerization, targeting vulnerabilities across multiple cancer types.

Dr. Simon Kerry, CEO of Curve Therapeutics, underscored the pivotal role this financing plays in expanding their team and propelling lead assets towards clinical development. He expressed enthusiasm for collaborating with new investors and existing partners to drive Curve to its next stage of growth.

Professor Ali Tavassoli, Chief Scientific Officer of Curve Therapeutics, highlighted the potential of the Microcycle platform to address unmet clinical needs across diverse diseases, with a particular focus on cancer.

Dr. Marie-Claire Peakman, Partner at Pfizer Ventures, emphasized the excitement of leading this financing round and the potential of Curve’s platform to tackle challenging therapeutic targets. She expressed eagerness to collaborate with Curve in identifying new therapeutics for tough-to-treat diseases.

Located at Southampton Science Park, Curve benefits from a vibrant life science ecosystem, facilitating collaborations with nearby universities and medical institutions. Its strategic positioning fosters innovation and accelerates the translation of scientific discoveries into meaningful treatments for patients.

logo ENYO Pharma

ENYO Pharma receives IND clearance and raises €39M Series C Financing – 3/1/2024

ENYO Pharma announced that it has received clearance of its Investigational New Drug (IND) application from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to initiate a Phase 2 clinical study of Vonafexor, a highly selective FXR agonist, for the treatment of Alport Syndrome. Alport Syndrome is a genetic condition characterized by kidney disease, loss of hearing, and eye abnormalities. In 2023, Vonafexor was granted as Orphan Drug Designation (ODD) by both the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for Alport syndrome.

Furthermore, ENYO announced the first closing of a EUR39M (USD42.8M) Series C equity financing, positioning ENYO as an emerging biotechnology company in the field of renal diseases. The financing will support the Phase 2 Alpestria-1 study and further profiling of Vonafexor in other kidney diseases, such as Autosomal Dominant Polycystic Kidney Disease (ADPKD).

The financing was co-led by OrbiMed and Morningside Ventures with participation from other existing investors including AndEra Partners, Bpifrance InnoBio and Bpifrance Large Ventures. The clearance of ENYO’s IND represents a significant milestone for the company as it embarks on its first clinical trial focusing on renal disease. ENYO’s lead candidate Vonafexor, as well as fast follower EYP651, are highly specific FXR agonists given as once-daily oral treatments.

Both compounds have strong fibrolytic and anti-inflammatory properties that are broadly applicable across several renal diseases. Vonafexor’s effect on renal function (eGFR) was already shown in the Phase 2 LIVIFY study of patients with both kidney impairment and fibrotic liver disease. Preclinical studies in both Alport Syndrome and Chronic Kidney Disease mouse models showed beneficial effects of Vonafexor on kidney remodeling and function in a curative mode.

What does the Venture Finance team at FFUND do?

FFUND’s Venture Finance team helps building and strengthening companies’ propositions to raise capital in an investment round. We do this by offering a number of services: analyzing the companies’ performance through assessment of key indicators, designing the data-room, performing market analyses, company valuations and composing the business plan and teaser deck for investors. On top of that, the team leverages its network of investors to receive feedback on your proposition while serving as a warm introduction.

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Siebe Warnars

Siebe Warnars