Merck Serono Ventures, the venture capital arm of Merck Serono, led the financing for this round.
“The goal of the Canbex programme is to set a new standard in the treatment of spasticity through improved tolerability,” said Jesse Schulman, CEO of Canbex. “Spasticity is among the most serious and debilitating symptoms of MS. VSN16R, our lead investigational candidate, has the potential to make a difference to people with MS.”
Nilesh Kumar, Director of Merck Serono Ventures, will join the Canbex Board of Directors. Kumar said: “We believe that an effective and well-tolerated treatment for spasticity would address an important medical need, and that VSN16R has the potential to make a major contribution in the area of symptomatic treatments of MS.”
Canbex is a spin-out of University College London (UCL) and was founded by a leading scientific team including Professor David Baker and Professor David Selwood, later joined by Professor Gavin Giovannoni, a practicing MS clinician who is a global leader in MS drug development and clinical research. The company received a Translation Award from the Wellcome Trust in 2011 to support development of VSN16R.
In addition to Merck Serono Ventures, other participants in the financing round included UCL Business PLC (UCLB), the technology transfer company of UCL, and the Wellcome Trust, through the release of the remaining tranches of funding from the 2011 Translation Award.
UCLB Senior Business Manager Abigail Watts commented: “UCLB are delighted that with this latest investment Canbex will see its lead MS therapeutic move into human trials.”
Past investors in Canbex include Fast Forward, the commercial drug development arm of the US National Multiple Sclerosis Society, the Bloomsbury Bio-Seed Fund and the venture capital fund Esperante SA.