COLUMBUS, Ohio & CINCINNATI--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Invirsa, an Ohio pharmaceutical company developing a new line of attack against common infectious diseases, has closed $520,000 in seed financing. The founding team is led by experienced drug developer Robert Shalwitz MD, most recently a co-founder of Akebia Therapeutics (NASDAQ: AKBA) and Aerpio Pharmaceuticals (OTCMKTS:ARPO). CincyTech led the financing with participation from initial seed investor Columbus-based Rev1 Ventures.
Invirsa’s approach represents an opportunity to help the global health community better prepare for and fight infectious diseases. Invirsa’s lead drug candidate, INV-102, derived from a naturally occurring small molecule, works by strengthening the innate immune response and stimulating the repair of damaged DNA. This unique mechanism of action represents a path to treatment that differs from traditional antibiotic and antiviral therapy.
Invirsa is initially developing INV-102 as a primary treatment for acute keratoconjunctivitis, also known as “pinkeye,” as well as upper respiratory tract infections. Both affect millions of Americans annually and can be easily spread from person to person.
“INV-102 has demonstrated efficacy in animal models of acute adenoviral keratoconjunctivitis via topical application (eyedrops). This has the potential to reduce from weeks to days the duration of symptoms from common upper respiratory infections,” said Invirsa CEO Robert Shalwitz MD, a pediatric endocrinologist who has led teams for NDA approvals for two drugs and for sNDA approvals for multiple approved compounds.
“This is a new approach to infectious diseases,” said John Rice PhD, Director of Life Sciences at CincyTech. “Working with serial entrepreneur Bob Shalwitz again was a key attractor for our investment in Invirsa. Bob has a stellar track record as a drug developer with a billion dollar marketed product and several more drugs in late stage clinical development to his credit.”
There is no FDA approved therapy for viral conjunctivitis, a highly contagious infection of the mucus membrane that lines the eye. It affects millions of Americans each year.
“While there are products to improve the immune response, none are approved as a first line therapy for common infectious diseases,” said Invirsa VP Isaiah Shalwitz, MS, a biostatistician and pharmaceutical development veteran. “INV-102 promises to be an exciting new development in enhancing the body’s immune response while simultaneously promoting cellular repair.”
“We are dedicated to fueling innovative solutions that have a real impact on the world and Invirsa is doing just that,” said Margaret Groh, SVP, Venture Acceleration at Rev1 Ventures. “The Invirsa breakthrough led by its impressive team is just the beginning and we are excited to be part of their journey to expanding the availability of this powerful treatment.”
This funding is the first step in bringing INV-102 into clinical development and ultimately to patients.
Invirsa is a pharmaceutical company that focuses on enhancing the body’s natural defenses to both protect and fight off challenging infectious diseases.
CincyTech helps to transform innovation into high performing life science and digital companies in Southwest Ohio. Our team provides advice and seed capital to entrepreneurs, helps research institutions commercialize technology through startups, and catalyzes investment from individuals and institutions into regional companies. CincyTech is among the Midwest’s most active seed investors. Learn more at http://cincytechusa.com.
About Rev1 Ventures
Rev1 is a venture fund that helps entrepreneurs build great companies. Combining investment capital with a unique blend of services through our startup studio, we propel innovation for startups and corporate innovation teams. Our seasoned, data-driven team helps lay the foundation for scalable growth with the skills to evolve a product, sell to customers, and build the right team. Named a top VC investor in the Great Lakes Region, Rev1 manages a continuum of financial support from corporate and community partners, as well as the Ohio Third Frontier. Rev1 was named the Most Active VC in Ohio in 2017 by CB Insights. For more information, visit http://www.rev1ventures.com.