Crowdfunding launch for cystic fibrosis drug developer

The equity crowdfunding run in New Zealand is gathering steam, with yet another company launching a campaign today. This time it is a local drug developer, which may have a treatment for cystic fibrosis sufferers.

Breathe Easy Therapeutics, an Auckland-based medicine company, is launching its campaign at midday with Snowball Effect, to raise the final $500,000 (minimum investment $1000) needed to start a two-phase clinical trial for Citramel, which could help the 75,000 people worldwide with cystic fibrosis.

The equity crowdfunding campaign rounds off the last stage of capital raising to take the medicine to clinical trial, which has the necessary regulatory and ethical approvals.  Breathe Easy says the cystic fibrosis market is worth more than $1 billion.

The company has just closed a successful fundraising round of more than $1 million from angel investors, Pacific Channel and the New Zealand Venture Investment Fund.

Citramel is in liquid form and inhaled by cystic fibrosis sufferers through a nebuliser. Early trials show improvements in the symptoms of cystic fibrosis, a hereditary life-threatening disorder that is diagnosed at birth and mostly affects respiratory and digestive systems. People with the disease require lifelong treatment and have a life expectancy of about 37 years.

The drug was invented by Professor Bob Elliot, who helped found the Department of Paediatrics at The University of Auckland.

Trial candidate recruitment will begin as soon as funding is complete and will be done at the Christchurch Clinical Studies Trust, led by Dr Chris Wynne, who says it is the first New Zealand trial of its kind on adults with cystic fibrosis.

“If Citramel proves to be effective, it could make a huge difference to the quality of life in many patients around the world.”

Potential to treat other disease

Breathe Easy director Brent Ogilvie says Citramel may also have the potential to treat other respiratory diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, which affects 320 million people worldwide.

This is the first offer in New Zealand where retail investors can invest alongside angel groups and other institutional funders, he says.

“With this [investment] of course comes high risk but the potential to join a New Zealand driven team committed to combating cystic fibrosis has real appeal.  We already have the commitment of those who’ve invested privately to evidence this, ourselves included, but this final stage of crowdfunding is important to progress our first and potentially other treatments.”

Snowball Effect has raised $3.6 million on its platform since receiving an equity crowdfunding licence from the Financial Markets Authority last July. Wine company Invivo Wines has also announced it will use this platform and will launch a campaign in the next two weeks. 

More details on the offer to come.

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