Merck-partnered Euroscreen raises €16M to support IND filing

Euroscreen has topped up its bank balance to support the globalization of its clinical trial program. The €16 million ($18 million) round will allow the G-protein coupled receptor (GPCR) specialist to file an IND and advance ongoing Phase II trials of its lead candidate in women's health diseases.

ThromboGenics founder Désiré Collen

New investor SFPI-FPIM and Fund+ NV co-led the Series B round with support from existing backers Vesalius Biocapital II Partners, SRIW SA and BNP Paribas Fortis Private Equity. The broadening of the investor base helped Euroscreen ratchet up its fundraising total, which topped the €12 million it pulled in when it last went to the financing font in 2012. Gosselies, Belgium-based Euroscreen is set to pump the money into an expansion of the R&D program for its lead candidate ESN364, a NK3 receptor antagonist it sees as a treatment for an array of women's health diseases.

Parallel Phase II trials of the drug in people with uterine fibroids, polycystic ovary syndrome (POCS) or menopausal hot flashes are already underway. Some of the cash will go toward wrapping up the three ongoing trials, data from which are expected in the third quarter of next year. Euroscreen has set aside another slice of its fundraising haul to support the filing of an IND with FDA and a final tranche for long-term toxicology tests. The toxicology tests are intended to set Euroscreen up to use ESN364 as a chronic treatment.

Broadening the data set in support of ESN364 is part of how Euroscreen plans to deliver a return to its investors. The company has previously spoken of its desire to secure an exit for investors in the near to mid-term. Signing up Merck ($MRK) in November for an alliance potentially worth upward of €100 million is one plank of the strategy, but ESN364 is key to Euroscreen's plans. Euroscreen sees the drug's interaction with the NK3 receptor as a way to modulate ovarian hormones, potentially enabling it to improve outcomes for women with multiple different conditions.

Fund+, the Belgium-focused VC shop set up by ThromboGenics (EBR:THR) founder Désiré Collen, is among the organizations to buy into the idea. "Euroscreen is one of the companies that we put in our top-list of investments when we recently created our fund," Fund+ Managing Partner Chris Buyse said in a statement. "We really expect Euroscreen's ESN364 will be the first true therapeutic available for both hot flashes and POCS."

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