Interview with the MetrioPharm Founders
In spring 2018, we met the three founders of MetrioPharm AG in Zurich for an interview. We talked about the right intuition for molecules with potential, about the ongoing clinical trial and MetrioPharm’s plans for the future
In 2007, the three of you founded MetrioPharm AG together. How did this happen?
Dr. Wolfgang Brysch: We first met a little over ten years ago and we realized that the three of us could work well together. Soon there was a sense of trust.
Rudolf Stäger: During this time, we also came across a small molecule that would later become our drug candidate MP1032. We were enthusiastic about the possibilities we saw and wanted to set up a new Swiss structure as quickly as possible. So, we founded the company in 2007. How did you know then that MP1032 would have such a huge potential?
Ekkehard Brysch: To be frank – we couldn‘t have known that. At the very beginning you have to rely on your gut feeling. And our gut feeling told us that we had found something really special here. Then we had to work hard to show that we were right about that feeling. Fortunately, we now know that it was worth it. With our flexible team, rapid development and good results, we are now in an ideal situation.
Dr. Wolfgang Brysch: If we take a step back and look at the opportunities of MP1032 today – we could hardly have imagined that at the beginning. Sometimes I say: We have not found the molecule; the molecule has found us.
Where does MetrioPharm currently stand, in 2018?
Rudolf Stäger: We are currently in the middle of a Phase II clinical trial. In the first indication, psoriasis, we want to demonstrate MP1032‘s efficacy and tolerability over a longer period of time.
Ekkehard Brysch: Altogether, we are on the home-run stretch. The really big questions were: Is our lead compound safe to use in humans? And does it work? Both questions have been answered positively up to now. Now it is a matter of clarifying the details. Finding the ideal administration forms, the right dosages. The uncertainties are gone, there are tasks remaining that require diligence, time and of course also money.
What is your strategy for the future of MetrioPharm?
Ekkehard Brysch: We intend to successfully complete the Phase II trial during the course of this year. At the same time, we are closing the current financing round totaling CHF 20 million. Our results so far give us a lot of self-confidence, because we can show that our drug works and also, how it works. In a very practical sense: five years ago, it was much harder to collect CHF 100,000 than it is today to collect CHF 1 million. In that way, we can continue to secure the funding for our very rapid development.
Dr. Wolfgang Brysch: Currently it is important to determine the ideal therapeutic application for MP1032 and to prepare market access in these areas. All signs indicate that MP1032 can be used in early stages of chronic inflammatory diseases thanks to its efficacy and safety profile. So far, no systemic therapies can be used in these phases of the disease. We see enormous medical benefits here and also great sales potential.
Rudolf Stäger: In the longer term, we are pursuing two central strategic goals. Firstly, we would like to use our existing and future data on psoriasis to find an ideal partner. This way we can generate income from a licensing deal. Secondly, we want to make the increasing value of the company accessible to our shareholders, for example through an IPO.
One final question. Are you satisfied with your collaboration since MetrioPharm AG was founded?
Dr. Wolfgang Brysch: I am very pleased that we can jointly lead the company to these successes; I believe that ten years ago the right founders came to know each other. We have experienced ups and downs and we have also had controversial discussions over the years. But we never argued, that‘s the big difference. We could always make a unanimous decision in the end. This way we didn‘t waste time on unnecessary friction. This has also contributed to our rapid development, together with the excellent work of the MetrioPharm team.
On June 20, our Annual General Meeting was held in Zurich. There, we presented our current annual report, from which this conversation with the founders was taken. If you are interested in the complete annual report with all facts, figures and background information, you can download it here. You can also order a printed version here. We will gladly send you a copy.