10 April 2013

UCLB spinout company, Canbex Therapeutics Ltd has completed a £2.1m fundraising round that will enable the company to complete the early development of its lead candidate for the treatment of spasticity in multiple sclerosis. Merck Serono Ventures, the venture capital arm of Merck Serono, led the financing for this round.

The goal of the Canbex programme is to set a new standard in the treatment of spasticity through improved tolerability,” said Jesse Schulman, CEO of Canbex. “Spasticity is among the most serious and debilitating symptoms of MS. VSN16R, our lead investigational candidate, has the potential to make a difference to people with MS.

Nilesh Kumar, Director of Merck Serono Ventures, will join the Canbex Board of Directors. Kumar said: “We believe that an effective and well-tolerated treatment for spasticity would address an important medical need, and that VSN16R has the potential to make a major contribution in the area of symptomatic treatments of MS.

Canbex was founded by a leading scientific and clinical team at UCL including Professor David Baker and Professor David Selwood, who were later joined by Professor Gavin Giovannoni, a practicing MS clinician who is a global leader in MS drug development and clinical research. The company received a Translation Award from the Wellcome Trust in 2011 to support development of VSN16R.

In addition to Merck Serono Ventures, other participants in the financing round included UCLB and the Wellcome Trust, through the release of the remaining tranches of funding from the 2011 Translation Award.

UCLB Senior Business Manager Dr Abigail Watts commented: “UCLB are delighted that with this latest investment, Canbex will see its lead MS therapeutic move into human trials.

Past investors in Canbex include Fast Forward, the commercial drug development arm of the US National Multiple Sclerosis Society, the Bloomsbury Bio-Seed Fund and the venture capital fund Esperante SA.

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About Canbex
Canbex is a single-asset company that was established for the purpose of developing the VSN compound series. In addition to its pioneering scientific founders, Canbex has assembled a skilled and focused management team. Development activities are carried out through outsourcing to well established CROs and CMOs. The company’s capital efficiency and lean management strategy ensure that funds are deployed overwhelmingly to compound development and that the company is well structured for exit.

For more information, visit: www.canbex.co.uk

About Merck Serono Ventures
Merck Serono Ventures is the strategic, corporate venture capital fund of Merck Serono, the division for biopharmaceuticals of Merck KGaA of Darmstadt, Germany. The fund invests in emerging biotechnology companies with the potential to provide breakthrough medical solutions in Merck Serono’s focus therapeutic areas: neurodegenerative diseases, oncology, immuno-oncology and immunology. In addition, Merck Serono Ventures invests in companies developing innovative technologies that could enable the discovery and development of new products in its core therapeutic areas.

For more information, visit: www.merckserono.com

About UCL Business PLC
UCLB is a leading technology transfer company that supports and commercialises research and innovations arising from UCL, one of the UK’s top research-led universities. UCLB has a successful track record and a strong reputation for identifying and protecting promising new technologies and innovations from UCL academics. It invests directly in development projects to maximise the potential of the research and manages the commercialisation process of technologies from laboratory to market.  UCLB supports UCL’s Grand Challenges of increasing UCL’s positive impact on and contribution to Global Health, Sustainable Cities, Intercultural Interaction and Human Wellbeing.

For further information, please visit: www.uclb.com

About the Wellcome Trust
The Wellcome Trust is a global charitable foundation dedicated to achieving extraordinary improvements in human and animal health. It supports the brightest minds in biomedical research and the medical humanities. The Trust’s breadth of support includes public engagement, education and the application of research to improve health. It is independent of both political and commercial interests.

For more information, visit: www.wellcome.ac.uk