Anthera Pharmaceuticals Secures $36M Venture Financing to Initiate Clinical Programs
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 portfolio." "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 (sPLA2) 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: www.anthera.com. 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 visit www.vpvp.com. 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 www.sofinnova.com. Contact: Press Relations 510-277-1208 PR@anthera.comRELATED LINKS
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