Anthera Pharmaceuticals Secures $36M Venture Financing to Initiate Clinical Programs

Sep 13, 2006, 01:00 ET from Anthera Pharmaceuticals

    SAN FRANCISCO, Sept. 13 /PRNewswire/ -- Anthera Pharmaceuticals, a
 specialty pharmaceutical company developing therapies for the treatment of
 serious inflammatory diseases, today announced it closed an initial $36
 million in venture financing. The funding was co-led by VantagePoint
 Venture Partners and Sofinnova Ventures and are joined by Pappas Ventures,
 Mitsubishi International Corporation, along with Series A-1 investors Sears
 Capital Management and SIM Equity. Eli Lilly and Company and Shionogi &
 Co., Ltd. also received equity as part of Anthera's obligations under the
 recently announced license agreement. Annette Bianchi, Managing Director,
 and co-Head of VantagePoint's Healthcare Practice Group and Jim Healy,
 General Partner of Sofinnova Ventures were named to the Board of Directors.
     The funding will be used to initiate clinical development of Anthera's
 portfolio of anti-inflammatory compounds licensed from Eli Lilly and
 Company and Shionogi & Co., Ltd. The Company's novel secretory
 phospholipase programs are preparing for Phase II clinical testing in
 multiple indications. Anthera will initiate clinical studies later this
 year for the program's lead compound A-001 as an early intervention therapy
 for acute chest syndrome in patients with underlying sickle cell disease --
 a $500 million worldwide market opportunity.
     "We are pleased to have the support of a strong group of investors that
 share our confidence and excitement in the promise of this unique class of
 anti-inflammatory compounds," said Paul F. Truex, President and Chief
 Executive Officer of Anthera. "Anthera will benefit from the experience and
 commitment of our new investors and the management team and I look forward
 to partnering with them to pursue additional opportunities to enhance our
     "Anthera is well positioned to build an attractive portfolio and
 leverage the commercial potential of sPLA2, inhibitors in multiple
 indications," said Annette Bianchi, VantagePoint Venture Partners. "We look
 forward to working toward this goal with our co-investors and the talented
 management team of Anthera."
     "Anthera is a compelling company for Sofinnova because it falls into
 our investment sweet spot," commented Sofinnova Ventures General Partner
 Jim Healy, M.D., Ph.D. "With a first rate management team and a promising
 drug pipeline spun off from big pharma, it has the same poise for success
 that we have experienced with some of its predecessors in the pulmonary
 space, such as Actelion, Intermune and CoTherix."
     Anthera Product Development -- A-001 and Secretory Phospholipase A2
     Anthera will develop the program's lead compound A-001 as an early
 intervention therapy for acute pulmonary diseases such as acute chest
 syndrome in patients with underlying sickle cell disease. Worldwide, nearly
 200,000 suffer from some form of this genetic blood disorder which results
 in an estimated 60,000 hospitalizations per year and significantly reduces
 life expectancy. Acute chest syndrome is a severe respiratory complication
 of sickle cell disease and is the leading cause of death in patients with
 this life threatening genetic disorder. Recent academic clinical studies in
 sickle cell patients have demonstrated that serum sPLA2 levels rise in
 advance of the acute chest syndrome, creating a unique opportunity for
 early intervention.
     A-001 is a novel potent inhibitor of secretory phospholipase A2 -- a
 group of enzymes responsible for triggering the release of arachidonic acid
 and subsequently the production of leukotrienes and prostacyclins and other
 mediators of inflammation. In various animal and in vitro studies it has
 been demonstrated that sPLA2 activity results in the release of several
 highly reactive mediators that promote and/or amplify inflammation. In
 several preclinical and clinical studies sPLA2 levels correlated with
 inflammatory response. Elevated levels of sPLA2 have been reported in
 several body fluids (e.g., serum, synovial fluid, and bronchoalveolar
 lavage fluid) from humans with several inflammatory conditions including
 rheumatoid arthritis, asthma, coronary artery disease (atherosclerosis),
 lung injury and dermatitis.
     About Anthera Pharmaceuticals
     Anthera Pharmaceuticals is a pharmaceutical development company focused
 on the development and advancement of promising clinical products for the
 treatment of serious inflammatory diseases. The Company has acquired
 worldwide rights (ex. Japan) to a series of clinical and pre-clinical
 products that inhibit the enzymatic activity of secretory phospholipase A2
 -- a group of enzymes responsible for the release of arachidonic acid and
 subsequent production of leukotrienes, prostacyclins and other mediators of
 inflammation. These highly potent compounds inhibit novel-upstream steps in
 the inflammation cascade and have the potential to address a variety of
 diseases. For more information please visit:
     About VantagePoint Venture Partners
     VantagePoint Venture Partners is a diversified venture firm with more
 than $4.0 billion of capital under management. The Firm invests exclusively
 in technology driven companies and is organized around deep expertise and
 resources in five principal areas of interest: Healthcare, CleanTech,
 Communications, Semiconductors, and Software/Internet. VantagePoint is a
 multi-stage investor and believes in applying a hands-on and team oriented
 approach to build companies of lasting value. For more information please
     About Sofinnova Ventures
     Sofinnova Ventures is a venture capital firm emphasizing a diversified
 investment strategy through financing early stage companies in the life
 science and information technology sectors. Founded in 1974, the San
 Francisco-based firm currently has $600 million under management.
 Sofinnova's mission is to create value by providing entrepreneurs with the
 resources, experience and networks necessary to turn their bright ideas
 into thriving businesses. With deeply rooted ties to Europe's leading
 financial, technology and venture institutions, Sofinnova is also uniquely
 positioned to foster trans-Atlantic synergy and market acceleration. For
 more information, visit
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SOURCE Anthera Pharmaceuticals