European life sci investment firm Medicxi said Monday it hived off a half-dozen portfolio companies, along with a $100 million financing, into a new entity focused on dermatology.
The firm, dubbed Alys Pharma, counts several leading experts, including a Nobel Prize winner, as co-founders. Day-to-day operations will be run by COO Thibaud Portal, formerly Galderma’s global head of prescription medicines.
“We believe that bringing together several asset-centric companies with a phenomenal team will power up Alys to transform innovation in immuno-dermatology,” stated Francesco De Rubertis, a Medicxi co-founder and partner who serves as Alys’ board chairman. “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.”
That pipeline targets indications “of significant prevalence and major unmet need,” from atopic dermatitis and vitiligo to alopecia areata and chronic spontaneous urticaria, the company said. Alys’ lead asset, a small molecule for a specialty indication called radio-induced dermatitis, was expected to enter the clinic late last year.
The pipeline also boasts programs focused on underserved indications such as mastocytosis, cutaneous T-cell lymphoma or prevention of skin side effects of oncology therapies.
All of these assets and platforms were culled from Alys’ founders, which included portfolio firms Aldena Therapeutics, Graegis Pharma, Granular Therapeutics, Klirna Biotech, Nira Biosciences and Vimela Therapeutics.
Co-founders range from Nobel Prize winner Craig Mello, of UMass Chan Medical School, to leading derm experts on faculty at such institutions as the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, Germany.
By 2026, the company aims to deliver between seven to 10 clinical proof-of-concept readouts, and potentially at least one program to advance to registrational studies.
Medicix’s investing strategy involves backing “asset-driven” companies – private, clinical-stage biopharma firms focused on developing new medicines in particular therapeutic categories.
Last year one of the investor’s portfolio companies, Versanis Bio, was acquired by Eli Lilly for $1.9 billion in cash. The deal gave Lilly access to bimagrumab, a Phase 2 agent being tested, both with and without incretin drugs, for use in adults who are overweight or obese.