Newly founded Amsterdam UMC spin-off Phlox Therapeutics receives seed investment

June 8, 2022

In March, Phlox Therapeutics was founded. This biotech spin-off of the Amsterdam UMC (location AMC) originates from research from the lab of prof. dr. Yigal Pinto of the department of Experimental Cardiology. Supported by IXA and AMC Ventures Holding, prof. dr. Pinto founded the company together with prof. dr. Eva van Rooij and with Margien Boels, PhD as its initiating business director. The company closed a seed investment round. This investment will be used to advance Phlox’s lead program focused on rare genetic laminopathies. Funding was provided by FIRST fund, managed by BioGeneration Ventures (BGV).

Existing therapies conspicuously fail to halt the progression of hereditary forms of heart failure. Ironically, this most often concerns young patients, leaving them with a therapy resistant form of heart failure. This includes patients with heart failure caused by mutations in the lamin A/C gene, also known as laminopathies, a distinct and often aggressive form of heart failure. Phlox’s technology uses smart RNA-designs that allow for parallel targeting of multiple Lamin A/C mutations. The versatile nature of these RNA-designs, developed by the Amsterdam UMC team, prevents the need for generating mutation specific compounds to treat each unique mutation, making these compounds efficacious for the majority of patients harboring a Lamin A/C mutation. Proof-of-concept experiments show that these compounds can induce highly selective and favorable therapeutic effects in human stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes from patients suffering from laminopathy. Next to mutations in Lamin A/C, Phlox Therapeutics aims to apply its smart designs to adjacent treatment resistant cardiomyopathies.

Yigal Pinto, cardiologist and CMO of Phlox Therapeutics: “My aspiration for initiating Phlox was triggered when I started to treat a large family with an aggressive mutation in the Lamin A/C gene, causing a severe type of heart failure that did not respond to our commonly used therapies. This harsh reality drove my team and I to seek new opportunities to relieve the burden of this gene mutation. Current  developments in RNA therapeutics have greatly accelerated our efforts to develop our proprietary technology to target the root cause of the problem in patients with mutations in the Lamin A/C gene. Therefore, I am very excited to collaborate with the dedicated Phlox Therapeutics team and partners to further progress this technology making it available for our patients that are suffering from this destructive disease.”