i&i Biotech Fund’s investment of $2 million goes to Dracen Pharmaceuticals, company developing cancer-fighting drugs

7. 3. 2022

dracen team.jpg

The team of Dracen Phramaceuticals.

Prague, Czech Republic – i&i Biotech Fund has announced investment of USD 2 million in Dracen Pharmaceuticals. This company is completing the first phase of clinical testing of DRP-104 (sirpiglenastat), which has the potential to significantly help the treatment of cancer. According to the Fund’s representatives, this is a very promising project with the possibility of significant appreciation.

DRP-104 was developed by a team of scientists led by Dr. Pavel Majer from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS in Prague, Czech Republic, in collaboration with scientists from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, US. DRP-104 can stop the cellular metabolism of glutamine, a key source of both carbon and nitrogen that cancer cells need for their growth. There is great promise in using DRP-104 with immunotherapy, which focuses on boosting the body’s immune response to the tumor.

Dracen Pharmaceuticals (Dracen) entered into an exclusive, worldwide license to develop DRP-104 and related compounds in 2017. So far, the company has raised investments of over 57 million USD. Thanks to this, Dracen has successfully brought the testing of DRP-104 to the clinical phase, where the drug is being administered to the first human patients. “The first phase of DRP-104 clinical testing will be completed this year. The funds we have raised through i&i Bio Fund will be used to complete this phase and to further develop our company,” says Thomas Estok, CEO of Dracen Pharmaceuticals.

The first phase of DRP-104 clinical testing will be completed this year.

The funds we have raised through i&i Biotech Fund will be used
to complete this phase and to further develop our company.

Tom Estok
CEO of Dracen Pharmaceuticals

Tom Estok.jpg

Unique ecosystem helps with technology transfer

i&i Biotech Fund (i&i Bio) is a new investment fund that started its activities in the second half of 2021. It was created through a collaboration between the Czech biotech incubator i&i Prague and the European Investment Fund, with the support of InnovFin and of the Pan-European Guarantee Fund. i&i Bio will invest more than CZK 1 billion in about 20 science startups over the next five years. i&i Biotech becomes only the second non-US based investor in Dracen; the first is the fund’s sponsor, i&i Prague.

“The entire collaboration on the synthesis and the development of DRP-104 is a great example of the unique ecosystem that has formed around the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry. Apart from the Institute itself, which is a world-class scientific workplace, it is made up of its companies such as i&i Prague and our new fund. These companies are not only devoted to scientific work but specialize in supporting technology transfer from academia to business,” explains Jaromír Zahrádka, the CEO of i&i Bio and i&i Prague. “Thanks to the existence of this ecosystem, we are able to bring not only financial resources but also unique know-how to selected startups,” he says.

sklo jaromir_web2.jpg

Thanks to the existence of this ecosystem [that has formed around the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry], we are able to bring not only financial resources but also unique know-how to selected startups.

Jaromír Zahrádka
CEO of i&i Bio

“There is still a lack of investment resources in the Czech Republic to support the transfer of knowledge and technology to users, and this is a tool to help the best of them reach patients. The fact that the European Investment Fund has chosen to cooperate with one of the institutes of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic shows that the quality of research in this institution has long reached the level of the most advanced countries in Europe, and we are of course very pleased about this,” adds Ilona Müllerová, Vice President of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic.

 

Contact

Martin Kovalčík, kovalcik@inibio.eu, +420 777 472 863

i&i Biotech Fund (i&i Bio)

i&i Bio is a Luxembourg-based venture capital firm that invests in innovative European Life Sciences companies focused on drug discoveries, medical devices, diagnostics and digital health. With over €45M under management, i&i Bio plans to invest in about 20 early-stage companies. i&i Bio is led by an experienced team of professionals with backgrounds in private equity, the healthcare industry and venture capital who support entrepreneurs on their journey to global success. Thanks to close cooperation with the fund’s main sponsor, the biotech academic incubator, i&i Prague, i&i Bio has a great opportunity to be at the inception of transformative Central European technologies.

About the European Investment Fund (EIF) 

The Fund is supported by an investment from the EIF, with the support of:

  • lnnovFin Equity, with the financial backing of the European Union under Horizon 2020 Financial Instruments and the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI) set up under the Investment Plan for Europe. The purpose of EFSI is to help support financing and implementing productive investments in the European Union and to ensure increased access to financing; and

  • the Pan-European Guarantee Fund (EGF), implemented by the EIF with the financial support of the Participating Member States. The objective of EGF is to respond to the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic by ensuring that companies in the Participating Member States have sufficient short-term liquidity available to weather the crisis and are able to continue their growth and development in the medium to long-term.

Kopie eif web_edited.png