The drug development start-up Lophora has been accepted into the Creation House program at BioInnovation Institute. In the fall of 2019, the company graduated from the Business Acceleration Academy (BAA) program, where they spent three intensive months working on a solid initial business plan. Prior to that, in January 2019, the project was awarded the DKK 1M Proof of Concept grant by BII.
Lophora is developing an antidepressant with a novel mode of action that has the potential to work within days. The company has identified and patented a new class of proprietary ligands that has a similar pharmacological profile as psilocybin. Psilocybin is the active component in “magic mushrooms”, which has shown great promise in the treatment of depression.
Lophora is currently focusing on Treatment-Resistant Depression, but psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy has also shown very promising results in the treatment of anxiety, PTSD and substance abuse.
“During the BAA the team focused on addressing a number of the key issues associated around the commercialization of the technology, which was highly complementary to the data they have generated during the Proof of Concept program. Our independent selection committee found it to be a compelling case for Creation House, and we believe Lophora brings an incredible opportunity to change how patients are treated, which is highly sought after in this space,” says Giles Dudley, Senior Business Developer at BII.
The four co-founders of the company are Jesper Kristensen – Professor at University of Copenhagen, Emil Marcher-Rørsted – Ph.D. student, Bo Tandrup – Pharmaceutical Entrepreneur and Anders Jensen – Associate Professor at the University of Copenhagen.
We talked to Jesper Kristensen about their journey.
What has happened since the BAA?
After the BAA we have been focusing on building the team to ensure we have the right competencies and people on-board. After having worked on the project in an academic setting for several years, the next phases of the project require people with in-depth knowledge of preclinical/clinical development and commercial strategy development. Furthermore, we have been in dialogue with several possible investors that are monitoring our progress closely.
Why did you apply for the Creation House program?
Having been part of BII’s Proof of Concept and BAA programs in 2019, we see Creation House as the perfect way to further grow and accelerate our business. Tapping into the network and knowhow available at BII as well as the founder-friendly convertible loan is a very attractive opportunity. The BAA program gave us a much better understanding of the investor perspective – what to focus on when presenting the project. Great science is not enough; we also have to present a convincing business case.
What will be your focus for the 18 months in Creation House?
We are advancing our lead candidate LPH-5 through pre-clinical development to qualify it for first-in-human studies by the end of 2021. This involves the production of LPH-5 on a large scale followed by a detailed investigation into the safety profile before we can get regulatory approval to initiate clinical studies with LPH-5. At this point, we will also start raising the necessary capital to initiate subsequent clinical development.
Read more about the BAA program here: https://bii.dk/business-acceleration-academy/
Read more about the Creation House program here: https://bii.dk/creation-house/
Read more about Lophora in BII’s Meet the start-ups article series: https://bii.dk/news/meet-the-start-ups-lophora/