Pharma giant Novartis leads $17 million investment in Irish medical startup Inflazome

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Dublin-based Inflazome, a startup that builds therapies for inflammatory diseases, announced a $17 million (€15 million) Series A investment round Monday, co-led by pharmaceutical giant Novartis and Fountain Healthcare Partners.

Inflazome is building out new drugs to specifically target inflammasome, a protein in the immune system that “generate signals calling for reinforcements whenever immune cells are stimulated,” according to the company’s own explanation on their website. “Sometimes the cells are over-stimulated, and in this case the resulting overactive inflammatory response can damage healthy tissue.”

“Inflammasome activation is now implicated in many diseases driven by chronic inflammation, from Parkinson’s to Asthma. These conditions are often inadequately treated by current therapies. We want to help people with debilitating diseases facing limited or no treatment options,” Inflazome Co-founder and CEO Dr. Matt Cooper said in a press release.

They aren’t the only player going after this specific protein. Another drug discovery startup, Pennsylvania-based TherimuneX, is also targeting inflammasomes. The market for anti-inflammatories is expected to grow by 5.9% between 2014 and 2020 according to Research and Markets, with the Asia Pacific region making up 8.5% of that growth alone.

His co-founder and CSO, Professor Luke O’Neill, added, “Animal models and clinical data suggests there is tremendous opportunity to stop the cycle of chronic inflammation in a range of diseases. We believe that targeting the inflammasome has tremendous potential for a wide range of inflammatory diseases where current treatments are ineffective.”

The deal places Novartis Venture Fund’s managing director, Florent Gros, on the board. Fountain Co-founder Dr. Manus Rogan will join him. The Novartis Venture Fund is headquartered in Basel, Switzerland and currently manages over $700 million in investments. Dublin-based Fountain Health Partners manages about $200 million in their portfolio.

Inflazome maintains its headquarters in Dublin and was founded by native Aussie, Professor Matt Cooper of the University of Queensland in Brisbane, as well as Professor Luke O’Neill of Trinity College Dublin.

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