ArmaGen Technologies, a US-based life sciences company known as Neurogene Technologies until 2004, has raised $17m in its series A round from four corporations. Boehringer Ingelheim Venture Fund, the corporate venturing unit of the eponymous Germany-based healthcare company, led the A round syndicate, which also included drug peers Shire and Takeda’s venturing units, and Japan-based financial conglomerate Mitsui’s Global Investment division. William Pardridge, founder and chief scientific officer of ArmaGen and professor of medicine and director of the Blood Brain Barrier Research Laboratory at University of California, Los Angeles, (UCLA), where he has worked since 1978, said: “The ArmaGen investor syndicate is a unique group of big pharma[ceutical companie]s each with their own global impact. This is the first time such a diverse group from the pharmaceutical industry has come together to finance technology in the blood-brain barrier.” Pardridge formed ArmaGen in 2004, and has financed the company to date with $20m in non-dilutive funding, including $14.6m of grants in two phases from the US government’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) programme, and an undisclosed amount in June 2008 from US Army to help it treat nerve gas patients. Martin Heidecker, a director at Boehringer Ingelheim Venture Fund, and Arthur Tzianabos from Shire have joined ArmaGen’s board, alongside Stuart Swiedler, a pathologist, as new directors. The other director beside Pardridge is Ruben Boado, ArmaGen’s president and also adjunct professor in the division of endocrinology, diabetes and hypertension, according to its regulatory filing. The A round will support the development of potentially first-in-class biopharmaceuticals targeting diseases of the central nervous system (CNS), which are engineered to penetrate the blood-brain barrier (BBB) through the use of so-called Trojans that disguise the treatments. The patented ArmaGen molecular Trojan horse technology licensed from UCLA has the potential to re-engineer recombinant proteins, which brin together genetic material from multiple sources to create sequences that would not otherwise be found in biological organisms, for BBB penetration for the treatment of diseases of the brain and spinal cord. ArmaGen is developing BBB-penetrating biopharmaceuticals for diseases of the CNS that affect over 250 million people. Initially, the company will focus on orphan diseases of the CNS with lead biopharmaceuticals for Mucopolysaccharidosis (MPS) Type I, or Hurler’s syndrome, and MPS Type II, or Hunter’s disease. Heidecker said: “I am very excited to work with such an experienced team on orphan diseases, but what makes me really excited about the technology is the potential of broad application in neurodegenerative…
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ArmaGen raises $17m from corporations
Dec 1, 2012 • Global Corporate Venturing
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