Luxembourg, February 1st, 2021 –TVM Life Science Innovation II SCSp today announced the fund’s investment establishing Sarkana Pharma, Inc., a company based in Wilmington, Delaware.
Sarkana Pharma, Inc. plans to develop, to proof-of-concept, an anti-inflammatory biologic with the potential to treat certain types of auto-immune diseases, including systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).
This antibody targets a critical pathway in certain types of auto-immune diseases. It was originally discovered through one of Eli Lilly and Company’s (Lilly) research and development programs. “The management team of Sarkana Pharma, Inc. is excited to have the opportunity to further develop this promising agent for auto-immune disorders to clinical proof-of-concept in collaboration with the TVM Capital Life Science team. Auto-immune diseases, namely lupus, remain a significant unmet clinical need that needs to be addressed,” said Caroline Fortier, CEO of Sarkana Pharma, Inc.
Sarkana Pharma, Inc. plans to develop the antibody to a proof-of-concept study in systemic lupus erythematosus. The Lupus Foundation of America estimates that 1.5 million Americans, and at least five million people worldwide, have a form of lupus. Lupus strikes mostly women of childbearing age. However, men, children, and teenagers develop lupus, too. Ninety percent (90%) of people living with lupus are women. Most people with lupus develop the disease between the ages of 15-44.
“TVM Capital Life Science is proud to have enabled the creation of Sarkana Pharma, Inc., and to have secured the rights to a biologic agent that aims to restore the body’s immune system’s equilibrium. This transaction is a testament to the benefits of our investment model,” said Dr. Luc Marengere, Managing Partner with TVM Capital Life Science. “Furthermore, we are pleased to collaborate with Caroline Fortier and Mark Cipriano, who will act as CEO and CFO respectively for Sarkana Pharma, Inc. Both have had a longstanding relationship with TVM and successful careers.”
This is the fourth early-stage investment for TVM Life Science Innovation II SCSp, a venture capital fund which follows a well-proven, capital-efficient investment approach to develop pharmaceutical assets to human proof-of-concept in single-asset companies. TVM Life Science Innovation II is a unique arrangement between TVM Capital Life Science and numerous limited partners, including Lilly. The goal is to finance and access innovation while managing risk and sharing reward.
Sarkana Pharma, Inc. will leverage its extensive product development expertise to potentially bring its asset to human proof-of-concept. “Early-stage investments by TVM Life Science Innovation II SCSp in project-focused companies such as Sarkana provide a capital-efficient method for developing potential new medicines in important therapeutic areas such as immunology,” said Kenneth Custer, Ph.D., Lilly’s vice president of corporate business development. “Lilly’s participation in the fund is one important way in which we collaborate with outside scientific teams to share risk and access promising external innovation.”
 GfK Roper. (2012). Lupus Awareness Survey for the Lupus Foundation of America [Executive Summary Report]. Washington, DC
 Pons-Estel GJ, Alarcón GS, Scofield L, Reinlib L, Cooper GS. Understanding the epidemiology and progression of systemic lupus erythematosus. Semin Arthritis Rheum. 2010 Feb;39(4):257-68. doi: 10.1016/j.semarthrit.2008.10.007. Epub 2009 Jan 10. Review.