Evotec now not only a partner to Eternygen but also an investor

Evotec is participating in the €8 million  ($8.46 million) Series A of its current partner in developing metabolic disease therapy Eternygen.

Both German companies, the biotech-CRO hybrid Evotec and metabolic diseases specialist Eternygen, started their partnership in May 2014, just two years after the latter was founded in Berlin. Eternygen is focused on the sodium coupled citrate transporter (NaCT), which is believed to have a hand in a series of metabolic diseases, including nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, diabetes and obesity.

The collaboration between the two is to develop novel small molecule inhibitors to treat those diseases. Evotec has been contributing its expertise in drug discovery and preclinical development, and now it is also pouring money into the virtual biotech, which is supported by a network of scientists and CROs.

After analysis of in vivo data, the company has successfully identified an early lead candidate showing strong effects on glucose and lipid metabolism, with significant improvements in controlling fatty liver disease, insulin sensitivity and body weight in animal models, according to a press release (PDF) put forward by the company announcing the closing of the first round of financing. The money collected in Series A will be used toward the determination of a lead preclinical candidate.

Hamburg-based Evotec has a broad span of therapeutic interest, including neuroscience, diabetes, pain and inflammation, oncology and infectious diseases. It has more than 70 partnered products at different stages of development in the pipeline. And it has won favors from some big names in the industry.

In September 2016, it reached a potentially €300 million ($317.1 million) five-year contract with Bayer in developing a number of kidney diseases meds, and that was based on a previous five-year endometriosis research deal with the German pharma. It is also in collaboration with Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen in the field of Alzheimer's disease, with Sanofi in diabetes, with Pfizer in fibrosis and with Celgene in neurodegenerative diseases. It has also partnered with British charity Antibiotic Research UK on the discovery of new meds in facing antibiotic resistance.

The round was led by startup-focused VC Epidarex Capital, and other investors include VC Founds Technologie managed by Berlin-focused VC IBB Beteiligungsgesellschaft, and two family offices. “We are convinced that the world-class metabolic drug development expertise these investors bring to the table will greatly accelerate and enhance our company,” said Marco Janezic, CEO of Eternygen, in a statement.

In early 2016, Epidarex also helped Evotec in the €14 million ($14.8 million) Series A of Evotec’s spinoff of its first drug unit, which now stands as Topas Therapeutics focused on nanoparticle-based therapeutics to treat immunological disorders.