January 9, 2020

Novo Seeds Portfolio Company Galecto Announces Merger with US based PharmAkea

  • Creates a global leader with first in class molecules for fibrotic disease

  • Galecto was first incubated by Novo Seeds and funded through the pre-seed grant program of the Novo Nordisk Foundation

Copenhagen, Denmark, 09 January 2020 – Novo Seeds, the early-stage investment and company creation team of Novo Holdings, today announced that its portfolio company Galecto Inc. (Galecto), the leading developer of galectin modulators for the treatment of severe diseases, including fibrosis and cancer will merge with PharmAkea, Inc. (PharmAkea), a privately held San Diego-based pharmaceutical company developing novel small molecules against protein targets involved in fibroproliferative disease.

Financial terms have not been disclosed. Following completion, the joint company will retain the Galecto name and current senior management team, including Hans Schambye as CEO. Galecto will be incorporated in the US and will retain its operating headquarters in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Søren Møller, Senior Partner at Novo Seeds, commented: “We congratulate Galecto on this news which transforms this Nordic company built on strong science with an experienced management team,  into a global leader in a disease area with very high unmet need.

“Our investment strategy is to build world-leading life sciences companies by ‘sourcing globally and building locally’ and Galecto is an excellent example of this. It was first incubated through the pre-seed grant programme of the Novo Nordisk Foundation, and subsequently Novo Seeds led the first seed investment round in 2011. We look forward to supporting the team as it advances its promising pipeline that addresses the needs of those living with pulmonary fibrosis, NASH and cancer.”

The merger brings together two clinical stage companies with strong programs in fibrosis and cancer, including an inhaled galectin-3 modulator currently in phase IIb for the potential treatment of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. Galecto has built a broad pipeline of drug candidates targeting the role of galectin-3 in inhibiting cells involved in fibrosis. This is complemented by PharmAkea, which has developed small molecules that target LOXL2, a key enzyme involved in the formation of the extracellular matrix during the fibrotic process.

Hans Schambye, CEO of Galecto, said: “The merger between Galecto and PharmAkea brings together two highly complementary companies, which with our strengths in fibrosis and cancer will help us  build a future global player in this space. PharmAkea, which included team members from Amira Pharmaceuticals, previously acquired by BMS, has a highly validated target and an exciting next generation small molecule inhibitor that is very potent and penetrates the fibrotic tissue. We are very much looking forward to working as a combined entity.”

Robert Williamson, CEO of PharmAkea, added: “Galecto has vast experience in developing galectin-3 modulators that have potential to open up new treatment options, particularly in fibrotic indications. The synergy achieved by combining our complementary scientific approaches, first-in-class product candidates, supportive long-term investors and dedicated employees with extensive experience of drug development, will ensure that we address these debilitating diseases sooner.”

About Galecto, Inc.

Galecto is focused on developing novel drugs for the treatment of fibrosis, inflammation, and other serious human diseases. The company’s products target galectins or galactoside binding lectins, which are a group of proteins shown to be involved in many disease processes. Since its founding in 2011, Galecto’s R&D team has proven that galectin-3 is an attractive drug target and that galectin-3 inhibitors are effective in reducing fibrosis in several different organs in preclinical models. Based on this research and recently completed clinical studies, Galecto’s high potency galectin modulators may open new treatment possibilities for many patients. The company is incorporated in the US and has its operating headquarters in Copenhagen, Denmark. Galecto is funded by Novo Holdings, OrbiMed, Ysios, HBM Healthcare Investments, Sunstone Capital, M Ventures, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Maverick Ventures, Seventure and SEED Capital.

Further information can be found at

About PharmAkea, Inc.

PharmAkea is a privately held San Diego-based clinical-stage pharmaceutical company developing novel small molecules against protein targets involved in fibroproliferative diseases. The company was funded through a collaboration with Celgene and a venture round by Bay City Capital. The company’s lead program is PAT-1251, a Phase 2 ready LOXL2 inhibitor, for the treatment of fibrotic diseases and some cancers. PharmAkea spun out PAT-409, a Phase 1 ready autotaxin inhibitor, in 2019, and that program was subsequently purchased by Blade Therapeutics.