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12 October 2017

Janpix snaps up $17.6m

University of Toronto Mississauga spinout Janpix has obtained $17.6m in funding from corporate-backed Medicxi, which had seeded the company.

Author: Thierry Heles, editor

Janpix, a Canada-based biopharmaceutical spinout from University of Toronto Mississauga, launched yesterday with C$22m ($17.6m) in funding led by life sciences-focused investment firm Medicxi.

Medicxi provided the money through its $230m Medicxi Ventures 1 fund, backed by pharmaceutical firms GlaxoSmithKline and Johnson & Johnson – the latter being a limited partner through its corporate venturing arm Johnson & Johnson Innovation – JJDC.

Janpix is working on small molecule inhibitors of Stat proteins, which play a crucial role in a number of solid and haematological cancers. Research suggests inhibiting these proteins offers a promising way to fight tumours.

The spinout is based on technology developed by Patrick Gunning, an associate professor and the Canada Research Chair in Medicinal Chemistry in the university’s Department of Chemical and Physical Sciences and Department of Chemistry.

Janpix was initially seeded by Medicxi. The spinout will use the latest funding to advance two lead candidates to the clinic. 

Roman Fleck, founding CEO of Janpix and an advisor to Medicxi, said: “Immunotherapy is one of the biggest advances in cancer therapy in recent decades but it does not work in a significant number of patients.

“By targeting the tumour directly along with its microenvironment we may be able to expand the universe of patients who can benefit from immunotherapies.”

Giovanni Mariggi, a principal at Medicxi and board member of Janpix, said: “We are excited to continue supporting Janpix and Prof Gunning's work on Stat inhibitors. Janpix has made great progress in developing tractable compounds that inhibit these difficult-to-target proteins.

“The role of Stats in multiple tumour types is supported by vast data and the emerging evidence of their role in tumour immunity adds an extra dimension to the potential impact these new drugs could have on patients.”

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