SAN DIEGO, March 12, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- HemaQuest Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (HemaQuest), a biotechnology company focused on developing small molecule therapeutics to treat hemoglobin disorders, announced today that it has closed a $13 million extension of their Series B financing. The Series B Extension is being funded by its existing investors: Aberdare Ventures, De Novo Ventures, Forward Ventures, Latterell Venture Partners and Lilly Ventures. Proceeds from the financing will be used to fund a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled Phase 2b clinical study evaluating lead product candidate HQK-1001 in patients with sickle cell disease. The Company believes this financing, combined with existing cash balances, will be sufficient to allow completion of the Phase 2b trial and to fund operations through early 2014.
"We are extremely pleased to have the continuing support of our existing investors," said HemaQuest Chief Executive Officer John P. Longenecker, Ph.D. "This additional financing enables us to continue our HQK-1001 clinical development program for sickle cell, moving another step closer to a new therapy for this devastating disease affecting underserved populations around the world."
HQK-1001 belongs to a class of compounds originally discovered at Boston University School of Medicine. These compounds, designated as Short Chain Fatty Acid Derivatives (SCFADs), have been shown to stimulate fetal hemoglobin expression and red blood cell production in the laboratory. HQK-1001 is an orally administered SCFAD which has been assessed in a number of clinical trials in sickle cell disease and beta thalassemia. These trials have established a safe and well tolerated dose which results in the induction of fetal hemoglobin. Induction of fetal hemoglobin production in red blood cells has been shown to reduce the frequency of pain crises and hospitalizations of patients with sickle cell disease. The compound has received Orphan Drug Designation in the United States and Europe for both sickle cell disease and beta thalassemia.
ABOUT SICKLE CELL DISEASE
Sickle cell disease is a genetic blood disorder that affects approximately 140,000 patients in the U.S. and Europe and 250,000 in the Middle East. Sickle cell disease is characterized by production of an abnormal beta hemoglobin chain of adult hemoglobin, which results in distorted, rigid sickle red blood cells, which block blood vessels, causing lack of oxygen to tissues, acute episodes of pain (pain crises), lung injury (acute chest syndrome), and strokes. Infections are common, and chronic damage occurs in many organs, including the spleen, bones, kidneys, lungs, brain, and eyes. The sole drug which is approved to reduce the frequency of pain crises is a cancer chemotherapy drug, hydroxyurea. The lifespan of sickle cell patients is markedly reduced.
ABOUT HEMAQUEST PHARMACEUTICALS, INC.
HemaQuest Pharmaceuticals (www.HemaQuest.com), established in late 2007, is a San Diego and Seattle-based biopharmaceutical company focused on developing small molecule therapeutics based on its proprietary SCFAD technologies to treat hemoglobin diseases. The Company's investors include Aberdare Ventures, De Novo Ventures, Forward Ventures, Latterell Venture Partners and Lilly Ventures.
Under U.S. law, a new drug cannot be marketed until it has been investigated in clinical trials and approved by the FDA as being safe and effective for the intended use. Statements included in this press release that are not historical in nature are "forward-looking statements" within the meaning of the "safe harbor" provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. You should be aware that our actual results could differ materially from those contained in the forward-looking statements, which are based on management's current expectations and are subject to a number of risks and uncertainties, including, but not limited to, our failure to successfully commercialize our product candidates; costs and delays in the development and/or FDA approval, or the failure to obtain such approval, of our product candidates; uncertainties or differences in interpretation in clinical trial results; our inability to maintain or enter into, and the risks resulting from our dependence upon, collaboration or contractual arrangements necessary for the development, manufacture, commercialization, marketing, sales and distribution of any products; competitive factors; our inability to protect our patents or proprietary rights and obtain necessary rights to third party patents and intellectual property to operate our business; our inability to operate our business without infringing the patents and proprietary rights of others; general economic conditions; the failure of any products to gain market acceptance; our inability to obtain any additional required financing; technological changes; government regulation; changes in industry practice; and one-time events. We do not intend to update any of these factors or to publicly announce the results of any revisions to these forward-looking statements.
SOURCE HemaQuest Pharmaceuticals, Inc.