EpiCor Therapeutics wins UCD start-up of the year award

Dr Chris Watson, Dr Nadia Glezeva and Dr John Baugh, EpiCor Therapeutics

17 November 2016

EpiCor Therapeutics, an early-stage biotech start-up, has won University College Dublin’s (UCD) 2016 Start-Up of the Year Award.

EpiCor is developing new disease-modifying treatments that target the mechanisms underlying the development of heart failure. The initial focus of EpiCor Therapeutics is to repurpose an existing drug, 5-azacytidine, for the treatment of a devastating heart disease called hypertrophic obstructive cardiomyopathy (HOCM).

HOCM is a disease in which a portion of the heart muscle is enlarged without any obvious cause resulting in impairment of the heart. The disease, which affects around 175,000 people, with associated annual healthcare costs of over $1 billion, in the US alone. has no approved disease-modifying therapeutics, is a significant cause of sudden cardiac death of individuals in any age group, and a leading cause of such death in young athletes.

EpiCor Therapeutics is repurposing 5-azacytidine (used mainly for the treatment of diverse bone marrow disorders) as a drug to prevent and reverse cardiac hypertrophy.

The founders of EpiCor Therapeutics, a UCD School of Medicine start-up, are Dr John Baugh, Dr Nadia Glezeva, Dr Chris Watson, Dr Mark Ledwidge and Prof Ken McDonald.

“It is an honour for EpiCor Therapeutics to win the 2016 UCD Start-up of the Year Award. It is a great endorsement for us going forward as we work to develop treatments to target a variety of heart diseases, including our initial focus on hypertrophic obstructive cardiomyopathy,” said Dr Baugh.

“We are currently seeking to raise €750,000 in seed funding to enable us to carry out pre-clinical bridging studies. Thereafter, following additional fund raising, we plan to proceed with a clinical proof-of-concept study to enable this drug to be approved as a therapeutic to treat this devastating disease.

EpiCor is the result of collaborative research, funded by Enterprise Ireland and the Heartbeat Trust, and carried out over many years with colleagues in the UCD School of Medicine, UCD Conway Institute, Queen’s University Belfast, St. Vincent’s University Hospital, Tallaght Hospital, St. Michael’s Hospital and Cleveland Clinic.

The overall objective of the annual UCD VentureLaunch Accelerator Programme is to support the creation, and to accelerate the launch, of sustainable and profitable new ventures based on intellectual property emerging from UCD. The programme aims to equip UCD researchers with the knowledge, skills and understanding that is required to work as part of a team successfully leading a new commercial venture.

In addition to the award, EpiCor was presented with a cheque for €10,000 sponsored by AIB, and a professional services package to the value of €10,000 sponsored by Bryan Maguire Business Consulting and Deloitte.

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