A small Irish pharmaceutical firm has secured multi-million euro funding to progress its research into a new drug which it is hoped could prove an effective treatment for a range of gastro-intestinal and other conditions.

Trino Therapeutics secured the €9m in funding from a new investor, Fountain Healthcare Partners, and its founding investor, the British based global charitable foundation, the Wellcome Trust.

Trino, a drug discovery and early drug development company focused on anti-inflammatory therapeutics, is developing a compound called PH46A. 

The drug is based on a molecule derived from a fern found in Taiwan.

Trino describes PH46A as a potential first in class drug for the treatment of inflammatory bowel disease, ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease. Trino is also working on other drugs within the same class that could be used for treating dermatological, pulmonary and auto-immune conditions.

A spin out company from Trinity College Dublin, Trino was founded by pharmacologist Professor Neil Frankish and medicinal chemist Professor Helen Sheridan, who said the funding would help them expand their team and develop clinical partnerships to further their research.

Professor Sheridan identified the fern's potential while studying Chinese herbal medicine.

The funding will be used to bring the drug through formal testing in health volunteers and to identify an international clinical investigator network to run patient studies. Other investors in Trino include Enterprise Ireland and Growcorp.

Both the Wellcome Trust and Fountain Healthcare Partners will be represented on the company's board of directors.