BioCrossroads Indiana Seed Fund II, an $8.25 million early-stage fund focused on identifying, creating and developing the next generation of leading Indiana-based life sciences companies, has made its first two investments: Esanex, a company developing an oncology drug, and Algaeon, which has developed an algae cultivation technology for use in the nutraceutical and micronutrient markets.
“These first two investments are indicative of the depth and breadth of Indiana’s life sciences sector as well as the diverse, but outstanding talent of our entrepreneurial community,” said David L. Johnson, president and CEO of BioCrossroads. “Esanex demonstrates the strengths and promise of Indiana’s drug discovery and development sector, and Algaeon highlights innovation in the agricultural biotech area.”
Esanex is developing a novel therapeutic in oncology. The company’s primary focus is centered on a specific Hsp90 inhibitor, SNX-5422, which “deactivates” the ability of tumor cells to grow and survive. The Hsp90 inhibitor is the result of a discovery from Serenex, a former Lilly Ventures portfolio company. The $500,000 investment from Indiana Seed Fund II, which is part of a Series A financing, will be used to complete a phase I study in patients with solid tumors and to conduct multiple phase II trials.
“The clinical development of Hsp90 inhibitors is an active and promising area in cancer research,” said Steven E. Hall, CEO of Esanex. “The investment from Indiana Seed Fund II will enable us to accelerate our progress by evaluating its effectiveness in patients with a variety of tumor types.”
Algaeon has developed patent-pending algae cultivation technology that produces specific algae species used in the nutraceutical and micronutrient markets as human supplements as well as in animal and fish feedstocks. The $250,000 investment from the Indiana Seed Fund II will enable the company to expand operations and to produce products such as Astaxanthin, Beta Glucan and others used as food supplements to promote health and disease prevention for humans and animals.
“Thus far, Algaeon’s funding has been from its two founders and angel investors. Having BioCrossroads’ investment and additional support from their team and network will be transformative for our company. The markets for our high-value algae derivative products have been growing at significant rates, and the investment will advance our entry into these high-demand areas,” said Paul DeLacey, president and CEO of Algaeon.
Algaeon was a winner of BioCrossroads’ inaugural New Venture Competition, presented at the BioCrossroads Indiana Life Sciences Summit in October 2012.