Health Valley
Text: Céline Bilardo
Photo: Nelson Reitz

On the road: Genkyotex

Genkyotex is a pioneer in developing a drug to treat diabetic diseases


“This is a very exciting period for us,” says Ursula Ney, Director of Genkyotex, enthusiastically describing the expansion of the Geneva-based start-up and its future projects, which include an innovative treatment for diabetic nephropathy. This common complication of diabetes currently affects 20% to 40% of patients.

The Genkyotex adventure began in 2006 at Eclosion, a business incubator in Plan-Les-Ouates in the canton of Geneva, with a team of four scientists from Geneva, Kyoto and Texas. Together, they discovered a new family of enzymes called NOX. These molecules produce oxygen derivatives involved in a number of cardiovascular diseases, forms of diabetes, and fibrosis. “Until 2011, we worked on selecting an enzyme to target a specific disease and develop a drug to fight it. We then launched two rounds of financing to lead our first clinical trials.” By 2014, the company had raised 72 million Swiss francs, enough to conduct its trials. Results are expected this summer. Genkyotex now employs 21 people.

The drug manufactured by Genkyotex is an orally administered capsule that stops the progress of the disease, something current treatments cannot do. “If the results are positive, we will be the first to show that these molecules have therapeutic benefits! Then we can develop more treatments for other rare diseases using this family of enzymes.”

Ursula Ney took over the management of Genkyotex in 2011. She is excited about the future of this research, which is attracting a growing number of scientists. “We are confident about the future. Our first drug has already received approval from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Canada, Australia and several countries in Europe.” /