Millions of people every year across the globe are afflicted with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), including Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, creating a $9.2 billion per year pharmaceutical market that is expected to grow 25 percent annually.
Now, Landos Biopharma Inc., a company founded by Josep Bassaganya-Riera, of the Biocomplexity Institute of Virginia Tech, has received $10 million in Series A funding through life sciences management firm Perceptive Advisors LLC to advance its lead therapeutic asset for IBD toward Phase 1 clinical testing in the second half of 2018.
Landos will develop orally active, locally acting treatments for Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis that could bring relief to the approximately 1.6 million American and 4 million global sufferers of IBD.
Current treatments for autoimmune diseases are painful, expensive, and often come with many side effects, including cancer, infection, and death, according to Bassaganya-Riera.
“We have a committed leadership team with industry experience focused on developing treatments that address an unmet clinical need of patients looking for safer, more effective oral therapeutics. Most importantly, we believe we can improve the lives of millions of patients living with these diseases,” said Bassaganya-Riera, Landos’ chairman, president, and CEO.
Bassaganya-Riera is the director of the Nutritional Immunology and Molecular Medicine Laboratory, a leading laboratory at the Biocomplexity Institute. He has received more than $55 million in competitive R&D grants and contracts, published more than 150 peer-reviewed publications, and founded three startup companies. He was named 2017 Innovator of the Year by the Roanoke-Blacksburg Technology Council.
“I congratulate Landos on receiving funding for this promising work, which has the potential to bring relief for those suffering from painful autoimmune diseases,” said U.S. Rep. Morgan Griffith of Virginia in a Landos Biopharma press release.
Partnering operational and strategic efforts with the Boston-based life sciences accelerator Xontongeny LLC, Landos works to find safe, effective therapies for Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.
Landos’ lead clinical candidate, BT-11, activates the lanthionine synthetase C-like 2 (LANCL2) pathway and intercepts IBD by reducing the inflammatory response and increasing anti-inflammatory activity in the gut.
“I am pleased that Landos Biopharma Inc. has announced it is raising $10 million for the development of a treatment for Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis,” said Virginia State Sen. John Edwards in the press release. “Landos is an emerging biopharma company focusing on developing oral therapies for autoimmune diseases. I have visited their facility at the Corporate Research Center in Blacksburg, and I am delighted at the progress they are making in this field.”
Bassaganya-Riera and his companies have been active members of a statewide group that supports the planning behind the Governor’s 2015 Virginia Bioscience Initiative, which calls for Virginia to be in the top three pharmaceutical regions by 2023. He is also a prominent member of the Blacksburg community and was a featured presenter at the Governor’s Forum on Bio and Big Data in Northern Virginia in 2015.
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