Ciana Therapeutics, a Zealand Pharma spin-out enters BII - BioInnovation Institute

Ciana Therapeutics, a Zealand Pharma spin-out enters BII

Ciana Therapeutics, a Zealand Pharma spin-out enters BII

Ciana Therapeutics joins the BII Creation House program that offers DKK 10M in funding and 18 months of incubation amongst life science start-ups at BioInnovation Institute in central Copenhagen.

The company was founded by CEO Ulrik Mourtizen and CBO Brad Young in 2019 and is a spinout from Zealand Pharma. At Zealand Pharma, Ulrik Mouritzen held the positions of Vice President and Head of Clinical and was the lead clinical scientist on the drug candidate Danegaptide.

Ciana Therapeutics has acquired the exclusive rights to Danegaptide and is developing the drug as a new early therapy to treat and reverse diabetic retinopathy.

Diabetic retinopathy is a serious complication of diabetes that leads to vision loss and blindness. Every year, the disease affects 30 million people in the US and Europe alone and with the increase in the number of diabetes patients globally, the number of diabetic retinopathy cases is expected to increase substantially world-wide.

“It is the high circulating glucose levels in the blood that stress the capillaries in the eye leading to cell loss, capillary break-down, vascular leakage and edema that causes vision loss and blindness. At Ciana Therapeutics, we are developing a drug that can halt and reverse the disease process at a much earlier stage before the eye is severely damaged”, explains Ulrik Mouritzen.

As a physician, he brings 20 years of experience in drug development to the team while Brad Young, who is based in the US brings 20 years of experience in product development and commercialization from companies such as Celera and Nodality.

“Danagaptide addresses the need for new and more effective therapies to treat diabetic retinopathy and with such an experienced team behind the asset, we have high expectations. The drug candidate is an analogue of Anti-Arrhythmic Peptide and the molecule has already been tested in more than 500 humans, documenting a good safety profile after systemic administration, says BII Senior Scientific Advisor, Hervør Lykke Olsen.

Ciana Therapeutics is working towards the clear goal of a series A investment by the end of the Creation House program. During the incubation at BII, the team will be building a stronger data package benchmarked against established therapies and work with different formulations.

“The Creation House program was a logical next step for us in preparation of an investment. BII can help us get there through the DKK 10M convertible loan and we are excited to be joining the collaborative environment at BII, says Ulrik Mouritzen.


Meet the other four start-ups in this batch of Creation House companies:
First bioindustrial start-up enters Creation House
BII welcomes CRISPR start-up in Creation House
ALS start-up funded by BII
Therapeutics start-up in osteoporosis funded by BII