Evotec announces strategic investment in Facio Therapies to support development of novel FSHD therapy


  • Evotec to participate in Facio Therapies' 2017 funding round alongside members of the FSHD community (total volume: EUR 4.8 m) 
  • Evotec expands its efforts in using patient-derived disease models to identify and develop disease-modifying therapies in areas of high unmet medical need 


Hamburg, Germany, 20 June 2017: Evotec AG (Frankfurt Stock Exchange: EVT, TecDAX, ISIN: DE0005664809) announced today that it will make a strategic investment as part of Facio Therapies' ("Facio") 2017 funding round together with Australian, European and North American members of the Facioscapulohumeral dystrophy ("FSHD") community (Total volume: EUR 4.8 m). Evotec is extending its ongoing drug discovery partnership with Facio and will carry out all discovery work. Through this investment, Evotec enters the field of musculoskeletal diseases via a very focused programme in FSHD, a disease of substantial unmet medical need affecting an estimated 700,000 people worldwide. 

Facio, a privately owned company based in Leiden, Netherlands, solely focuses on finding a safe, effective, and affordable cure for FSHD. FSHD is a progressive muscle-wasting disease and there is currently no treatment option available. The key event in FSHD is the undue expression of the so-called DUX4 protein in skeletal muscle, which leads to muscle atrophy and oxidative stress. Since 2015, Facio and Evotec have been collaborating to identify DUX4-repressing small-molecule compounds as a potential treatment to stop the progression of FSHD. As part of the partnership, drug discovery efforts performed at Evotec have been based on screening patient-derived primary cells in a high-throughput manner. 

Facio will use the proceeds of the funding to further accelerate its small-molecule DUX4 repressors towards the selection of pre-clinical lead candidates. 

Kees van der Graaf, Facio's Chairman, said: "We are extremely pleased that Evotec, our drug discovery partner and a recognised global leader in its field, has decided to join our shareholder base together with an ever growing number of FSHD community leaders. This funding will enable us to make further strides towards bringing a badly needed therapy to people with FSHD." 

Dr Cord Dohrmann, Chief Scientific Officer of Evotec, commented: "We are very excited about working together with Facio in FSHD, a devastating disease with a high unmet medical need. Using a unique patient-centric approach, we jointly intend to identify and develop drug candidates with disease-modifying properties. Combining Facio's very focused management team with our proven drug discovery platforms is a highly effective model for both Facio and Evotec to bring forward projects with first-in-class potential and perfectly fits to Evotec's equity strategy." 


FSHD (Facioscapulohumeral dystrophy) is a muscle wasting disease, worldwide devastating the lives of about 700,000 people and those close to them. The loss of muscle strength has a huge impact on daily life. Living with FSHD means living with pain, fatigue and social isolation. Above all, the future becomes uncertain because the course of the disease is unpredictable. About 20% of people with FSHD end up in a wheelchair. Currently, no therapy for FSHD is available other than forms of temporary symptomatic relief. 


Facio Therapies, established in 2014, is a Netherlands-based company with a single focus - to overcome FSHD by developing a causal therapy that restores the natural repression of muscle-toxic DUX4. Facio works with leaders in the field to develop an affordable FSHD therapy in the most expeditious fashion possible. Having arisen from, and dedicated to working for the FSHD community, Facio's business approach is to have a positive impact on lives rather than to maximize financial gain. Facio's founders - Kees van der Graaf (Netherlands), Bill Moss (Australia), and Neil Camarta (Canada) - are business leaders from the FSHD community. For additional information on Facio, please visit www.facio-therapies.com. 


Information set forth in this press release contains forward-looking statements, which involve a number of risks and uncertainties. The forward-looking statements contained herein represent the judgement of Evotec as of the date of this press release. Such forward-looking statements are neither promises nor guarantees, but are subject to a variety of risks and uncertainties, many of which are beyond our control, and which could cause actual results to differ materially from those contemplated in these forward-looking statements. We expressly disclaim any obligation or undertaking to release publicly any updates or revisions to any such statements to reflect any change in our expectations or any change in events, conditions or circumstances on which any such statement is based.