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辉瑞4300万美元入股Nimbus助力NASH疗法研发

来源:生物谷 2015-03-19 09:20

2015年3月19日讯 /生物谷BIOON/ --著名的临床前研究公司Nimbus Therapeutics表示公司已经完成了总额达4300万美元的B轮融资。此次融资中制药巨头辉瑞的名字赫然在列,表明又一家生物医药巨头将作为Nimbus公司发展的后盾。

除了辉瑞公司旗下的Pfizer Ventures,葛兰素史克公司的SR One、Lilly Ventures等活跃在生物医药领域的著名投资公司都参与其中,甚至连亿万富翁比尔盖茨都在其中插了一手。

Nimbus Therapeutics公司此前主要是利用公司的独有技术为各大生物医药公司进行计算机模拟药物筛选服务,而在新任CEO Don Nicholson的带领下,公司将要逐渐进入临床研究领域,为此公司还特异将公司名称中的"Discovery"替换为"Therapeutics"以宣示公司未来发展重心的转移。

此次融资后,Nimbus公司将开始进行其首个药物的临床研究。该药物是一种乙酰辅酶a羧化酶(CAA)抑制剂,主要用于治疗非酒精性脂肪性肝炎(NASH)。Don Nicholson宣称,这也是迄今为止首个针对NASH的CAA抑制剂药物。随着人们生活水平的提高,患有脂肪肝类疾病的患者在全球已经数以亿计,可以说NASH已经成为威胁人类健康的重要疾病之一。因此,NASH被认为是生物医药开发者的下一个金矿所在。

Nimbus公司计划利用本轮投资推动这一药物进入临床研究,预计这一药物的临床二期研究将于2016年上半年开始。除此之外,公司还透露公司还分别与Shire公司和Monsanto公司签订了两项合作项目,但并未透露具体的细节。(生物谷Bioon.com)

详细英文报道:

After years of careful preclinical foundation work, Nimbus Therapeutics has added another marquee name to its Big Pharma-heavy list of backers and put together a $43 million B round that will put its computer-driven drug design technology to the clinical test in one of the hottest fields in biotech.

Pfizer Ventures is pitching in this time, joined by another new investor, Lightstone Ventures, and a group of original backers that includes billionaire Bill Gates, Lilly Ventures,SR One from GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK) and founding investor Atlas Venture.

Nimbus, which recently dropped the word "Discovery" from its name in favor of "Therapeutics" to highlight its transition into a clinical-stage company, plans to use the cash to back clinical research on an acetyl CoA carboxylase (ACC) inhibitor--which the company refers to as the "first allosteric and liver-targeted inhibitor intended for the treatment of Non-alcoholic Steatohepatitis," or NASH. Fatty liver disease now affects millions of people, and the disease is viewed as a potential gold mine for developers.

Don Nicholson, who joined the Cambridge, MA-based company as CEO last fall after a 25-year stint in R&D at Merck ($MRK), tells FierceBiotech that he hit the ground running on the B round. And he's clearly pumped at the prospect of leading a company with enough cash to get well into a mid-stage program on the lead therapy, with more work planned for growing a pipeline that has attracted Shire and Monsanto as development partners.

Considerable attention for the company--which included the 2013 Fierce 15 award--focused on the strength of its investors' global reps along with an intriguing tech platform that promised to intertwine co-founding partner Schrodinger in using computer-driven drug design efforts to build a pipeline of small molecule drug candidates. With an assist from Atlas's Bruce Booth, a board member with a decided opinion on biotech budgets, the company set out in the lean-and-mean days of 2009 determined to build a significant company without burning through a big budget.

Nimbus was originally led by Executive Chairman Dan Lynch, of ImClone fame, and a small virtual crew. And while Nicholson may have more cash now and a team of 15, the thrifty mindset stays in place, with plans to remain semivirtual using dozens of consultants and outside contributors to manage the development process.

"Other than the two nondisclosed programs with Shire and Monsanto, all the assets are unpartnered," says Nicholson, "with several programs migrating through our pipeline." The plan for now is to keep NASH unpartnered as it sets out to nail down the early-stage evidence that Nimbus has something of real value. And there's more nondilutive cash that be banked with the right deals on other therapies.

While NASH has become a hot focus in biotech, says the CEO, the pioneering drugs in the field--like OCA--are also freighted with safety and efficacy issues that should leave plenty of room for next-gen therapies that come along. A Phase I study should offer a clear look at drug activity and allow Nimbus to pivot into a Phase IIa in early 2016. There's enough money to at least get started on a Phase IIb trial, adds Nicholson.

As Nimbus goes to work on NASH in the clinic, Nicholson says there should be plenty of time to assess how the company develops. Maybe that means an IPO, maybe partnering deals, maybe sales. When Nimbus was set up, the decision was made that each asset would be put in its own LLC. That may have complicated things a bit early on, says Nicholson, but the biotech is free now to wheel and deal on each program without affecting the rest of the assets. And Nimbus also has the cash and the kind of influential backers needed to march ahead on its own.

 

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