Ionis-backed Dynacure bags €47M to start clinical trials

Dynacure CEO Stephane van Rooijen. (Dynacure)

Dynacure has raised €47 million ($55 million) to take an antisense oligonucleotide therapy into the clinic. The French biotech picked up the centronuclear myopathy (CNM) prospect from its cofounder, Ionis Pharmaceuticals.

Ionis cofounded Dynacure with Kurma Partners and SATT Conectus in 2016 and licensed CNM drug Dyn101 to it for $5 million in equity and up to $205 million in milestones the following year. Dyn101 is the result of a back-and-forth between a French research group and Ionis. 

The French researchers linked mutations in the gene encoding for the dynamin 2 (Dnm2) protein to CNM muscle disorders. Ionis then applied its antisense technology to the target, before sending the candidate back to France. Along the way, the French research group published data on the effect of antisense oligonucleotide-mediated Dnm2 knockdown in mice that dialed up expectations for the program. 

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“The results were spectacular,” Dynacure CEO Stephane van Rooijen said. “We saw disease reversal.”

Dynacure, which employs and works with members of the original French research group, has since selected a clinical candidate and is now pushing to get Dyn101 into humans. To bankroll its efforts, Dynacure has raised €47 million in a round led by Andera Partners—formerly Edmond de Rothschild Investment Partners—and assisted by Pontifax, Bpifrance, Kurma Partners and IdInvest Partners.

The syndicate has come together to support a management team made up of ex-Genzyme, Shire and Valneva staffers as it strives to find out whether Dyn101 can down regulate expression of Dnm2 and thereby improve outcomes in X-linked and autosomal dominant forms of CNM. 

Van Rooijen took charge of Dynacure in 2016 having spent the previous two years as CEO of VIB-VUB spinoff Confo Therapeutics. Prior to that, van Rooijen worked at Genzyme and Viropharma. Van Rooijen is joined in the C-suite by Frédéric Legros, Ph.D., the former corporate head of business development at Valneva.

Legros and van Rooijen are part of a growing, 14-person team that is developing Dyn101 in parallel with efforts to build a preclinical rare disease pipeline.