WALTHAM, Mass., Jan. 3, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- Sojournix, a clinical stage pharmaceutical company focused on creating new medicines to transform the treatment of women's health and neuroendocrine disorders, announced today the completion of a $44 million Series C financing. Proceeds from the financing will be used to advance SJX-653, a novel, potent, and selective neurokinin-3 (NK3) receptor antagonist in clinical development as a once-daily non-hormonal treatment for menopausal vasomotor symptoms (commonly referred to as "hot flashes").
Leading healthcare investors participated in the Series C financing, including RA Capital Management, Boxer Capital of the Tavistock Group, Frazier Healthcare Partners, Venrock Healthcare Capital Partners and Janus Henderson Investors. To date, Sojournix has raised a total of $70 million in capital, including $7 million in a Series A financing, $19 million in a Series B financing and $44 million in the Series C financing announced today.
"With this financing we are well-positioned with an outstanding syndicate of investors to rapidly progress clinical development of SJX-653 for the treatment of moderate to severe vasomotor symptoms due to menopause and additional potential indications," said Dan Grau, President, CEO, and co-founder of Sojournix. "By advancing SJX-653, we hope to address the large and well-recognized unmet medical need among patients for a safe and effective non-hormonal treatment option."
"Our philosophy is to invest in companies that are developing the best agents, from the most promising emerging drug classes, spearheaded by outstanding management teams – and all three of these elements are present with Sojournix," said Jamie Topper, M.D., Ph.D., Managing General Partner of Frazier Healthcare Partners' Life Sciences team. "We look forward to working with Dan and the Sojournix team as they develop the full clinical and commercial potential of SJX-653."
SJX-653 is a novel, potent, and selective NK3 antagonist in clinical development as a once-daily non-hormonal therapy for vasomotor symptoms (commonly called "hot flashes") due to menopause. SJX-653 is currently progressing in Phase 1 clinical studies.
Sojournix acquired SJX-653 through an asset purchase transaction with H. Lundbeck A/S in 2017. Under the terms of the agreement, H. Lundbeck A/S assigned ownership of patents, data, and materials related to small molecule NK3 antagonists, including SJX-653, to Sojournix. Sojournix controls the worldwide development and commercialization of compounds and intellectual property acquired under the agreement. H. Lundbeck A/S received upfront consideration, including an equity stake in Sojournix, and is eligible to receive downstream milestone and royalty payments.
About Neurokinin-3 (NK3)
Research in the NK3 field suggests that vasomotor symptoms are caused by excessive NK3 signaling in the median preoptic nucleus, an area of the brain responsible for regulating body temperature. During menopause, the decline in estrogen levels leads to an over-production of neurokinin B (NKB), an endogenous neurotransmitter that binds to and activates NK3 receptors in the median preoptic nucleus. By reducing the excessive signaling of NKB at the NK3 receptor, NK3 antagonism helps restore the body's normal thermoregulation capacity, and therefore has the potential to alleviate menopausal vasomotor symptoms.
NK3 antagonism as a mechanism for treating vasomotor symptoms is clinically-validated, demonstrating efficacy comparable to hormone therapy. In addition, a human genome study revealed a genetic link between vasomotor symptoms and the tachykinin 3 gene that encodes the NK3 receptor.
About Vasomotor Symptoms (VMS)
Vasomotor symptoms are characterized by sudden and recurrent sensations of intense heat, or "hot flashes," often accompanied by elevated heart rate, hidrosis (sweating), erythema (skin reddening) and the disruption of both daily activities and sleep. Over 2 million women enter menopause each year in the United States alone and the majority experience vasomotor symptoms. The median duration of vasomotor symptoms due to menopause is approximately 7 years.
While hormone therapy is considered an effective treatment for menopausal VMS, many women choose to avoid hormone therapy due to concerns about safety risks highlighted in the product labels of hormone therapy products. Hormone therapy is also contraindicated in women who have a history of certain medical conditions. Currently available non-hormonal agents, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI), primarily used as anti-depressants, are known to have limited efficacy. As a result, SJX-653 has the potential to address the high unmet medical need for a safe and effective non-hormonal therapy for menopausal VMS.
Highlighting the size of the menopausal VMS market opportunity, products containing conjugated estrogens, a form of hormone therapy, accounted for the largest number of prescriptions of all drugs sold in the U.S. in 2000. After results from the Women's Health Initiative clinical study describing hormone therapy safety concerns were published in 2002, approximately 65% of women taking hormones stopped therapy.
Vasomotor symptoms are also a common and sometimes debilitating side effect of certain cancer treatments, including tamoxifen or aromatase inhibitors used for breast cancer in women and androgen deprivation therapy used for prostate cancer in men. These agents can induce an abrupt onset of vasomotor symptoms, making it challenging for many patients to adhere to their cancer treatment.
Sojournix is a clinical stage pharmaceutical company focused on creating new medicines to improve the treatment of women's health and neuroendocrine disorders. We are advancing SJX-653, a novel, potent, selective NK3 antagonist in clinical development as a once-daily non-hormonal therapy for moderate to severe vasomotor symptoms (commonly called "hot flashes") due to menopause. Sojournix is based in Waltham, Massachusetts and has raised $70 million from premier healthcare investors. To learn more about Sojournix, we welcome you to visit www.sojournixpharma.com.
- Avis et al. (2015) "Duration of Menopausal Vasomotor Symptoms Over the Menopause Transition" JAMA Intern Med 175(4): 531–539
- Crandall C. et al. (2017) "Association of genetic variation in the tachykinin receptor 3 locus with hot flashes and night sweats in the Women's Health Initiative Study" Menopause 24(3): 252–261
- Depypere et al. (2017) "Clinical evaluation of the NK3 receptor antagonist fezolinetant (a.k.a. ESN364) for the treatment of menopausal hot flashes" Maturitas 103 89–94
- Kaiser Family Foundation, Prescription Drug Trends Report 2001
- The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists: 2011 Women's Health and Stats