Trino Therapeutics raises €9m in Series A financing

28 May 2013

Prof Helen Sheridan, Trino; Prof Neil Frankish, Trino; and Dr Ena Prosser, Fountain Healthcare Partners

Dublin drug discovery and early drug development company Trino Therapeutics has raised more than €9m in Series A financing from new investors Fountain Healthcare and founding investor Wellcome Trust.

Other investors in Trino include Enterprise Ireland and Growcorp. Both the Wellcome Trust and Fountain Healthcare Partners will be represented on the board of directors.

The company, which works in the area of anti-inflammatory therapeutics, is developing PH46A, the lead candidate from a novel and proprietary class of drugs which was inspired by the indane scaffold molecule derived from a Taiwanese fern. PH46A is a potential first-in-class drug for the treatment of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), which could be used in both ulcerative colitis (UC) and Crohn’s disease (CD).

Other molecules in Trino’s drug class show promise with broad anti-inflammatory activity that could be suitable for applications in dermatology, pulmonary and auto-immune disease and the company will work to develop these compounds internally and in partnership with major international research centres.

“Our commitment to Trino is a strong validation of the quality of the investment opportunity in Irish biomedical research, particularly in areas such as immunology and gastroenterology,” Dr Ena Prosser, Fountain Healthcare Partners, explained.

From leaf to lab

The company founded by pharmacologist Prof Neil Frankish and medicinal chemist Prof Helen Sheridan centred on their work on pharmaceutical-grade drugs based on the indane skeleton as derived from a Taiwanese fern, used historically in plant-based medicine.

“This significant investment validates our research, enabling us to expand the Trino team and develop our clinical partnerships so that we can investigate the effectiveness of our research where it is needed – in patients with inflammatory diseases and ineffective drugs,” Frankish said.

Initial funding of €2.2m from this syndicate was used to complete GMP manufacture and pre-clinical testing. The additional €7m investment will be used to bring the drug through formal First in Man testing in healthy volunteers, to identify the international clinical investigator network to run the patient studies and to complete initial Phase II testing of PH46A in mild to moderate ulcerative colitis.

“Current treatments for inflammatory bowel diseases often have significant side effects and patients are faced with tough decisions in how to manage their condition,” Dr Richard Seabrook, head of business development at the Wellcome Trust, explained.

“We are pleased to extend our successful partnership with Trino to support the development of PH46A as a potential new therapy for these debilitating disorders.”

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years