Oct 28, 2021

Aculys Pharma Closes US$60 Million Series A Financing Led by SoftBank Vision Fund 2

Aculys Pharma, Inc. (“Aculys Pharma”), a new biopharmaceutical company focused on the development and commercialization of new innovative drugs in the fields of neurology and psychiatry, today announced the closing of a US$60 million Series A financing led by SoftBank Vision Fund 2 and joined by Catalys Pacific, HBM Healthcare Investments, Global Founders Capital, Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Investment, and ANRI. The company also announced an exclusive licensing agreement for the clinical development and commercialization in Japan of pitolisant, a selective histamine H3 receptor antagonist/ inverse agonist developed by Bioprojet SCR (Paris, France) and approved and prescribed for the treatment of sleep disorders in the US and Europe. The proceeds of the Series A financing support the clinical development and commercialization of pitolisant for the treatment of sleep disorders.

“We are delighted to partner with Bioprojet to advance the development of pitolisant, a therapeutic agent with a novel mechanism of action for sleep disorders, in Japan.,” said Kazunari Tsunaba, Co-founder, Chief Executive Officer and Representative Director of Aculys. “We welcome the support of our global group of high-quality investors to advance the program. We, Aculys Pharma, will strive to transform not only treatment but also medical care in the field of sleep disorders. We will do our best to help as many patients as possible to improve their quality of life.”

“We are excited to advance innovative therapies for patients suffering from neurological disease in Japan,” said BT Slingsby, previously founding Chief Executive Officer of Aculys and now Executive Chair of Aculys’ Board of Directors. “As one of the few venture capital funds focused on company creation and investment in early-stage life sciences in Japan, we are gratified to have had the opportunity to found and seed the company with Kazunari and to be working with the exceptional team of drug developers at Aculys.”

“As our first Vision Fund 2 investment in Japan, we believe Aculys Pharma can provide solutions for sleep disorders through innovative drugs and beyond-the-pill solutions by utilizing digital technologies and AI,” said Kentaro Matsui, Managing Director at SoftBank Group and former Managing Partner at SoftBank Investment Advisers. “From insomnia to narcolepsy, sleep disorders affect millions of people worldwide and cause more than $100 billion in socioeconomic losses in Japan annually. Together with Catalys Pacific, we are pleased to partner with Mr. Tsunaba and the Aculys team to support their mission of developing neurology and psychiatry drugs for patients in Japan.”

Aculys was founded by Catalys Pacific at the Shonan Health Innovation Park with the purpose to work with healthcare professionals, Japanese societies, and patient families involved in the treatment of patients with neurological or psychiatric diseases.

Beyond the development and commercialization of new medicines, Aculys is committed to the patient experience including the awareness, screening, diagnosis, treatment of disease and the resolution of surrounding social issues for patients and their families confronted with neurological and psychiatric disease. The company looks to form comprehensive solutions through cross-sectional partnerships using new technologies to enhance the patient experience.

About Pitolisant

Pitolisant is an antagonist / inverse agonist that selectively binds to the histamine H3 receptor, an autoreceptor located in the presynaptic region of the histamine containing neurons in the human brain that plays a critical role in regulating sleep and wake rhythm. The drug was approved by the EMA for “narcolepsy with or without cataplexy” in 2016 and for “excessive daytime sleepiness associated with obstructive sleep apnea syndrome” in 2021. In the United States, the drug was approved by the FDA for “excessive daytime sleepiness associated with narcolepsy” in 2019, and “cataplexy associated with narcolepsy” in 2020.

About Bioprojet SCR

Bioprojet SCR is a pharmaceutical company headquartered in Paris, France. Its activity focuses on research and development of innovative medicines that meet unmet medical needs such as pitolisant (Wakix®). Bioprojet is commercially active in 7 western European countries through its own organization and commercially covering the rest of the world through local distributors and licensees.

For more information on Bioprojet Pharma, please visit

About Catalys Pacific

Catalys Pacific is an independent venture capital firm focusing on early-stage investments in life sciences. The firm’s mission is to focus on providing healthcare solutions for patients worldwide through the creation of and investment in bioventure companies. Catalys Pacific is led by a global team versed in working closely with its partners in academia, biotech, venture capital and the pharmaceutical industry in Japan and worldwide. The firm maintains offices in Tokyo and Kanagawa (Shonan Health Innovation Park), Japan and in San Francisco, California.


About Shonan Health Innovation Park (Shonan iPark)

Shonan iPark is Japan’s global hub for innovation and collaboration. Today, Shonan iPark houses over 120 companies and gathers more than 2,200 (as of Oct., 2021) across pharma, next-generation technologies, AI, venture capital, and government-related organizations. With the mission to “build a life science ecosystem that is open to the world”, Shonan iPark recently launched a virtual membership option for pioneering life science organizations seeking to navigate Japanese market entry. This is the first time a Japan-based life science innovation park has offered a virtual membership to a global audience.

About Aculys Pharma, Inc.

Aculys Pharma is a biopharmaceutical company focused on the development and commercialization of innovations in the fields of neurology and psychiatry. Its corporate name was created from the philosophy of “Catalyst to Access.” Aimed to act as a bridge for innovative medical care in the field of neuropsychiatry, Aculys develops and commercializes novel pharmaceuticals and provides innovations for better medical care to patients, their families, healthcare professionals, and society


Company name: Aculys Pharma, Inc.
Address: 26-1, Muraoka-Higashi 2-chome, Fujisawa, Kanagawa, Japan
Representative: Kazunari Tsunaba
Established: Jan 2021


Information concerning pharmaceutical product (compound under development) contained herein is not intended as advertising or as medical advice, but intended for disclosure of management information.