Evotec, MaRS Innovation found fibrotic disease startup

Fibrocor is built on Canadian academic science and a German drug discovery platform

Evotec and MaRS Innovation have joined forces to found Fibrocor Therapeutics, a fibrotic disease startup. Fibrocor will work with Evotec to advance molecules with the potential to prevent, slow or reverse fibrosis with a view to selecting a lead candidate in 2018.

The research program is underpinned by the work of people including Dr. Richard Gilbert, Dr. Darren Yuen and Jeff Wrana, and an annotated bank of diseased and healthy human tissue samples. Fibrocor will leverage its academic co-founders’ access to samples from tissues including the lung, liver, kidney, colon and skin to advance its research programs. Specifically, Fibrocor thinks it can identify and validate novel targets and molecular pathways directly from the tissue samples.

Work is already underway. Fibrocor has identified a lead program, setting it on a path it thinks will lead to the nomination of a lead candidate in 2018. Evotec will support Fibrocor using its drug discovery platform.

“Combining Fibrocor's ability to identify novel disease relevant targets and Evotec's industry-leading drug discovery platform should greatly increase the probability of delivering effective medicines for patients,” Evotec COO Mario Polywka said in a statement.

The other organization behind the founding of Fibrocor, MaRS, is the bridge between the academic and clinical worlds of Gilbert, Yuen and Wrana and the commercial world of Evotec. MaRS is the commercialization agent for 15 academic institutes in Ontario, Canada, including the employers of Gilbert, Yuen and Wrana. And it has put cash toward the $2.1 million (€2.0 million) seed round Fibrocor put together to get up and running.

Evotec’s involvement is indicative of its growing interest in using its drug discovery platform to help academics turn their early-stage research into biotech pipelines. This interest has manifested in different ways. In March, Evotec spun off a platform licensed from the University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf to create autoimmune biotech Topas Therapeutics. And in November it got involved with Lab282, a University of Oxford initiative that will tap into Evotec’s capabilities to ease the transition of projects from academia to commercial drug discovery.