Laval biotech startup launches with ‘record-breaking’ $21 million

A new biotech startup in Laval targeting an oral treatment for venous lower limb ulcers is launching with serious capital at its disposal.

According to PEhub’s Kirk Falconer, the Fonds de solidarité FTQ, CTI Life Sciences Fund and the Canadian affiliate of French pharmaceutical company Servier have invested $21 million to help launch Ilkos Therapeutics.

Its solution is still in clinical development. Servier granted an exclusive licence to the company and will oversee it through Servier Canada‘s Centre of Excellence in Clinical Research.

“For Servier, this new partnership is in keeping with its research investment strategy in Québec. We launched our Centre of Excellence in Clinical Research in 2014, and now we are investing in a biotech firm,” said Servier Canada’s CEO, Frédéric Fasano. “The fact is that what we could do on our own in the past is no longer possible without the help of a network of high-calibre partners. The creation of Ilkos Therapeutics will make it possible to continue the clinical development of an innovative drug.”

Venous lower limb ulcers makes up a disease that affects 1 to 1.5 per cent of the population, mainly older people. A press release on the funding noted that current treatment is only moderately effective for complete wound healing and limited to compression bandages and local wound care. Moreover, it’s labour intensive, accounting for 1.5 to 2 per cent of the health care budget in countries like Canada.

The new treatment is a potentially major clinical breakthrough. Ilkos’s clinical solution showed “promising pharmacological wound-healing properties” in preclinical trials involving more than 200 patients. It was “proven to be safe in phase 1 clinical trials on more than 300 healthy volunteers” as well.

“Québec is at the vanguard of biomedical innovation,” said Normand Chouinard, executive VP, investments, at the Fonds de solidarité FTQ. ““Ilkos Therapeutics shows once again that Québec can succeed in the life sciences sector. Our quality R&D and service infrastructures, combined with the availability of capital, make Québec an optimal location for the development of new therapies.”

The Canadian Venture Capital & Private Equity Association (CVCA) noted that the “record-breaking” deal is worth more than double the previous life sciences VC seed high (a $10-million deal by Versant Venture Management) and is 17 times greater than the average life sciences VC seed deal since 2013.

Based on CVCA data, Quebec has the largest amount of VC life sciences investment since 2013, with $565 million invested across 77 deals. Ontario follows closely behind with $561 million invested over 111 life sciences deals over the same period. In addition, three of the largest five VC life-sciences deals in CVCA’s InfoBase were early-stage investments into Quebec-based companies: two rounds (US $100 million and US $50 million) in DalCor Pharmaceuticals Inc. and a US$60-million round in Clementia Pharmaceuticals Inc.


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