European Lead Factory drug-like hit leads to creation of a spin-out

23 November 2016

Dr. Margit Mahlapuu, one of the academic researchers who has benefited from EU Lead Factory screening activities by identifying a drug candidate series for type 2 diabetes, went on to create a spin-out company based on these results.

Dr Mahlapuu’s group, based at the University of Gothenburg, first identified a new target which could be used to reverse metabolic complications in type 2 diabetes. With the help of the European Lead Factory experts, she then screened the then 320 000 industry compounds of the Joint European Compound Library and identified a set of selective and potent small molecules which interfere with this target. ‘The European Lead Factory provided the missing piece in the puzzle – a potent, selective compound that could enable pharmaceutical validation of the target and provides a strong starting point for further development towards the clinic.’ Margit explained.

She went on to create a spin-out company, ScandiCure, whose aim is to further develop these molecules into a first-in-class anti-diabetic drug. The company already secured an investment from GU Ventures AB, an investment company and an incubator owned by the Swedish state. This is the first spin-out created as a result of the European Lead Factory, but project representatives hope it won’t be the last. ‘As the European Lead Factory offers access to high-quality compounds to any researcher in the EU, similar spin-outs in various disease domains are expected in the future’, said Ton Rijnders of Lygature, one of the European Lead Factory project partners. ‘The value of such spin-outs is not only in the expected commercialization of products developed, but also in the societal impact. The European Lead Factory contributes to the faster development of new innovative medicines, which will eventually benefit the patient.’