Medicxi merges 6 dermatology biotechs into one, adds $100M funding for launch

What do you get when you merge six dermatology disease-focused biotechs into one? Medicxi plans to find out.

The London-headquartered venture capital firm is combining six of its portfolio companies together, adding in a $100 million shot of financing and hoping that the result will “form a new R&D-centric multi-platform pipeline in immuno-dermatology.”

Those ingredient companies include Switzerland and U.K.-based Aldena Therapeutics, which was working on siRNA-based therapies for dermatological indications and received $30 million funding from Medicxi less than a year ago.

There’s also U.K.-based Graegis Pharmaceuticals, set up to prevent the side effects of radiotherapies on healthy skin, and fellow U.K.-based Granular Therapeutics, which specialized in precision biologic therapies for treating mast cell driven disorders.

Completing the set are Klirna Biotech, Nira Biosciences and Vimela Therapeutics, which have all kept a low profile to date.

The combined portfolios of these companies means that the resulting biotech, named Alys Pharmaceuticals, is launching with “more than a dozen active programs” and ambitions for “further organic pipeline growth" in inflammatory diseases, autoimmune diseases, dermatology supportive care for cancer patients and rare skin conditions, according to Medicxi.

The biotech will be headed up by co-founder and Chief Operating Officer Thibaud Portal, former global head of prescription medicines at aesthetics dermatology company Galderma. Alys is aiming to deliver between seven and 10 proof-of-concept readouts over the next three years, with the potential for at least one program to reach registrational studies, Medicxi said.

“We believe that bringing together several asset-centric companies with a phenomenal team will power up Alys to transform innovation in immuno-dermatology,” Francesco De Rubertis, chairman of Alys and partner at Medicxi, said in the release. “Alys manages a broad pipeline of assets with diverse risk profiles and will hugely benefit from this change of scale and facilitated access to capital.”

Along with the $100 million financial fuel to take it down this path, Alys is also arriving with strategic collaborations with the likes of France’s Institut Gustave Roussy, UMass Chan Medical School, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, Georgia Institute of Technology and EMPA Swiss Federal Institute for Materials & Technology.

Last July, Medicxi launched a $400 million fund with the stated aim of “backing visionary biopharma entrepreneurs.” De Rubertis told Fierce three months later that “the environment is good” for investing in European biotech.