3B Future Health Fund, previously known as Helsinn Investment Fund S.A., has invested in iOnctura SA, a clinical stage biopharmaceutical company developing a pipeline of next generation molecules targeting cancer and fibrosis. iOnctura has raised an additional 5.1 million euros, bringing iOnctura’s total Series A financing to 20.1 million. 3B Future Health Fund joins the existing blue-chip investor syndicate of M Ventures, INKEF Capital, VI Partners, and Schroder Adveq, which all participated in the extension.

Helsinn International Services SARL is a Monaco-based affiliate of the Swiss Pharmaceutical Group focused on building quality cancer care products. In 2016, Helsinn created the Helsinn Investment Fund to support early-stage investment opportunities in areas of unmet patient need. The company is headquartered in Lugano, Switzerland, with operating subsidiaries in Switzerland, Ireland, the U.S., Monaco and China, as well as a product presence in approximately 190 countries globally, the company said.

The funding will enable iOnctura to accelerate development of its next generation dual immune and tumour targeting therapies. Data emerging from early clinical evaluation of its lead molecule IOA-244, a highly selective PI3Kδ-inhibitor, in solid tumours is expected to enable progress into a Phase Ib trial earlier than anticipated and preclinical development of its second program, IOA-289, an ATX-inhibitor with dual utility in organ specific and cancer associated fibrosis, will be expedited into human testing in early 2021.

iOnctura has recently strengthened its team with the appointment of Dr Joanna Horobin as Chair. Joanna is an accomplished drug developer and biotech leader with over 35 years of experience in the pharmaceutical and biotech sector in Europe and the US. Previous to her time at Idera Pharmaceuticals, Dr Horobin served as chief medical officer of Verastem, CEO of Syndax Pharmaticeuticals and held roles of increasing responsibility at several global pharmaceutical companies. These include Rhône-Poulenc Rorer (now Sanofi) where she spearheaded the launch of the global Oncology business unit. Dr Horobin received her medical degree from the University of Manchester.

Riccardo Braglia, 3B Future Health Fund Chairman and Helsinn Group Vice Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, commented: “We look to invest in early-stage companies which are developing novel treatments in areas of high unmet patient need. We have been very impressed with the world class team at iOnctura and the potential of its next generation molecules targeting cancer and fibrosis.”

Catherine Pickering, Chief Executive Officer of iOnctura, said: “I am pleased to welcome 3B Future Health Fund to our strong investor syndicate. This oversubscribed Series A round provides further validation and support of our strategy as we progress our novel, highly selective, PI3Kδ inhibitor and our differentiated ATX inhibitor through clinical development.”

SOURCE: Helsinn Healthcare S.A. PHOTO: Dr Joanna Horobin