Belgian Biotech and Roche Take on Neurological and Developmental Disorders

Confo Therapeutics has joined forces with Roche to develop new small molecule agonists of a G-protein coupled receptor to treat neurological and developmental disorders.

Confo Therapeutics is developing a pipeline of G-protein coupled receptor (GPCR)-targeting drugs to address an unmet medical needs. The biotech spun out from the Vrije Universiteit Brussel in 2015 with the backing of a bunch of biotech veterans to progress its Confobodies technology. Today, it has agreed to a research collaboration and license agreement with Roche, which sees Confo receive an initial €6M, which could rise to €81.5M if various milestones are reached – perhaps a little low considering the size and recent successes of the big pharma. Roche is not the first big pharma to come sniffing around Confo, with Lundbeck agreeing to a collaboration earlier this year. In addition, the company has also been backed by Flanders Innovation & Entrepreneurship fund, with a €1.6M grant earlier this year.

Confobodies bind and lock proteins into place to reveal structural features, which could help to identify new drug targets. The implication of GPCRs in diseases likes cancer, schizophrenia, and depression means that plenty of biotechs are developing drugs targeting these proteins. Heptares Therapeutics bought G7 Therapeutics for €11M to get hold of its technology that rapidly generates stable GPCRs. The company has since joined forces with Allergan and the two of them have developed a candidate, HTL0016878, for the treatment of Alzheimer’s. Despite this fierce competition, Confo has proven that it’s ready for a challenge since winning our startup battle.

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