By Joseph Harvey, Editor, March 15, 2018

US companion animal medicines firm Poïesis Therapeutics is now working on in-licensing a pipeline of eight candidates from human biotechnology companies.

The San Diego-based business is looking to develop a range of potential products including nanoparticles, small molecules, topicals and peptides for undisclosed indications in dogs, cats and horses.

These candidates are being in-licensed via eight separate deals, the company told Animal Pharm at the recent Human Biotech & Animal Heath forum in Boston, Massachusetts. Four candidates have already completed safety and toxicity studies.

Poïesis has benefited from human health firms showing an increasing willingness to license technologies to animal health partners. However, the company’s co-founder Jessica Dugan said investment is still a key issue for early-stage animal health businesses.

“More and more companies are coming to us,” she said. “Human biotech is starting to realize it is leaving money on the table by not exploiting the animal health market for their drugs.

“Raising the money is proving to be a challenge. The main problem is getting a lead investor who understands the animal health space, which then provides a sufficient comfort level and validation for other investors to jump in. Our plan is to raise $10-15 million in a rolling close. In the short-term, we are looking to raise $5m before the end of Q2 to provide funding for us to enter two candidates into pilot studies.”

To date, Poïesis has raised just under $500,000. This has come from friends and family, as well as the co-founders’ personal funds. In 2016, the company relocated to the US from the UK to improve its chances of securing funding.

Founded in 2015, the firm – a two-person operation – currently plans to develop its candidates up until the registration stage, before handing them off to a commercial partner.

The company’s business model does not include building its own sales force or manufacturing capacity but instead positions it as an intermediary between human biotechs and large animal pharmas, while remaining focused on de-risking assets with large market opportunities.