Umeå-based pharmaceutical company Vakona has been given a capital injection of just over SEK 14 million from five investors to help it develop a new drug to treat acne.
“This is a significant investment for us, as now we can continue with our product development”, says Gabriella Persson, CEO of Vakona.
Vakona is developing a new, antibiotic-free treatment for acne vulgaris – the world’s most common skin disease that affects more than 80 percent of all teenagers and young adults. The company has been working for several years with a natural bacterial protein identified by Oleg Alexeyev’s research group at Umeå University. The protein has the potential to be an effective treatment for acne, through application in the form of a skin cream or ointment. Vakona’s product breaks down the biofilm that bacteria can form in hair follicles and has the potential to be a highly effective acne treatment.
The SEK 14 million investment will go towards the product’s ongoing development. Three of the investors, Stoaf III SciTech, Partnerinvest Norr and Phase2Phase Biopharma, have all previously invested in Vakona and are now injecting additional capital. The two new investors are private investor Anders Bergkvist and Execa Allocation, whose owner Jonas Sjögren now joins the Umeå company’s board.
“This demonstrates that our investors have great confidence in the company, and see the enormous potential in our proposed acne product. In addition to capital, the investors also contribute valuable expertise in business development, networking and product development”, says Gabriella Persson.
The capital from the 5 investors now enables Vakona to take several important steps in the product’s development journey.
“We will be able to establish a process for production and purification on a 50-liter scale. After that the plan is to start full-scale production (100 liters) and develop the final pharmaceutical product”, says Gabriella.
The global market for acne drugs is estimated to be worth over $6 billion annually – so the potential for Vakona is huge.
“Looking at the year ahead we will need additional capital to carry out the mandatory preclinical toxicity studies. We will also work actively to further develop the company and to continue to attract additional investors, which will give us the resources needed for a completed clinical trial that validates the enzyme’s medicinal effect. The goal is to conduct a phase I/IIa clinical trial in 2026”, says Gabriella Persson.