02/21/2023 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 02/21/2023 09:47
Montréal, Québec, February 21, 2023 - Esperas Pharma, Inc. ("Esperas"), a company based in Montréal, Québec, today announced a follow-on investment by TVM Capital Life Science ("TVM") through its fund TVM Life Science Innovation I SCSp and the Fonds de solidarité FTQ (the "Fonds"). Esperas is developing the first oral Check 1 inhibitor, ESP-001 (formerly LY2880070), a compound originally discovered through a research and development program at Eli Lilly and Company, with the potential to treat certain types of cancers including high-grade serous ovarian cancer ("HGSOC").
"The management team of Esperas is delighted to have the continued support of our original investors. The data generated to date combined with the advancing scientific knowledge support the continued development of this promising oral Check 1 inhibitor," said Caroline Fortier, CEO of Esperas.
With these funds, Esperas will conduct a proof-of-concept study in a genetically selected sub-population of HGSOC. In a first proof-of-concept study in HGSOC, ESP-01 combined with low-dose gemcitabine, showed a significant rate of disease control (59.3%)1. This new trial will assess the efficacy of ESP-01 in combination with low-dose gemcitabine in patients with HGSOC with tumors expressing defined genetic profiles. The genetic assessments will be performed by Foundation Medicine through their Foundation One CDx test. Enrollment is expected to start in March 2023.
"Chk1 inhibition has a compelling rationale in this group of ovarian cancer patients with a high unmet medical need," stated Dr. Wilson H. Miller, Director, Clinical Research Unit, Jewish General Hospital and a Principal Investigator in the study. "Initial data in ovarian cancer was very promising. Furthermore, there is no approved strategy for the treatment of ovarian cancer with the defined genetic signature in this study."
"TVM is proud to continue its financial support of Esperas. The results generated in an initial proof-of-concept study in HGSOC show great promise for this unique anticancer agent," said Dr. Luc Marengère, Managing Partner with TVM. "Furthermore, we are pleased to continue our collaboration with Caroline Fortier and Chantal Miklosi, who act as CEO and CFO, respectively, for Esperas."
"This reinvestment demonstrates our commitment to finding a targeted treatment for ovarian cancer. The undertaking of clinical trials in Montréal, Toronto and Edmonton emphasizes our commitment to exploit the geographic expertise in order to improve patients' lives everywhere. The Fonds de solidarité FTQ is proud to help Esperas in pursuing its goal of fighting one of the most life-threatening cancers in women's health," said Geneviève Guertin, Vice-President, Private Equity and Impact Investing, Life Sciences at Fonds de solidarité FTQ.
About TVM Capital Life Science
TVM Capital Life Science ("TVM") is a leading international venture capital firm focused on investing in life science innovations. The company has a highly experienced transatlantic investment team and approximately $900 million under management. TVM's portfolio focuses on therapeutics and medical technologies from North America and the EU that represent differentiated first-in-class or best-in-class assets with the potential to transform standard of care.
TVM pursues a unique two-pronged strategy, financing innovative early-stage therapeutics through a single asset company approach (Project-Focused Company, PFC) that leverages the firm's strategic relationship with global pharmaceutical firm, Eli Lilly and Company. TVM also invests in differentiated commercial-stage medical technologies and late clinical-stage therapeutics.
With its early-stage investments, TVM follows several key principles, which include increasing capital efficiency, streamlining development timelines and soliciting buyer input at the time of investment. This strategy has been validated through successful exits such as AurKa Pharma, Inc. and Acanthas Pharma, Inc.
The TVM investment team has worked together for over a decade to effectively utilize this innovative approach to maximize returns for investors and finance new therapies and technologies to meaningfully improve patient lives.
About the Fonds de solidarité FTQ
The Fonds de solidarité FTQ invests to build a better society by channeling the savings of its 753,125 shareholders into development and risk capital investments to help Québec transition to a green economy, to a human-centred world of work, and to a healthier society. The Fonds offers businesses unsecured financing and strategic support. With $17.8 billion in net assets as at November 30, 2022, the Fonds supported more than 3,600 partner companies and over 296,000 jobs.
About Esperas Pharma, Inc.
Esperas Pharma, Inc. is a special purpose company created to develop one compound to proof-of-concept. The project is fully financed by TVM Life Science Innovation I and Fonds de solidarité FTQ (the "Fonds"). Esperas Pharma, Inc. is led by an experienced management team. The company has completed: 1) dose-escalations of ESP-001 monotherapy and in combination with gemcitabine; and 2) proof-of-concept trials in high-grade serous ovarian cancer and pancreatic cancer. A study assessing ESP-001 and low-dose gemcitabine in Ewing sarcoma is ongoing.
1ESMO 2022, Miller, W.H. et al. FPN # 537: A Phase 1b/2a Study of Oral Chk1 Inhibitor LY2880070 in Combination with Low-Dose Gemcitabine in Patients with Advanced Ovarian Cancer.