A number of companies received venture-backed biotechnology investments in the first half of 2009. Anecdotally, a significant portion of the higher-dollar investments were made by established venture funds in public companies and were directed to companies anticipating or in the middle of clinical trials for cancer and infectious disease treatments.
An intriguing example of the potential for seeing a glass half full and rising is Boulder, Colorado’s Clovis Oncology, a start-up founded at the beginning of 2009 to acquire, develop, and market anticancer compounds. Led by executives from Pharmion, which was acquired last year by Celgene for $2.9 billion, Clovis raised $145 million in May from New Enterprise Associates, Domain Associates, Frazier Healthcare and Technology Ventures, Abingworth Management, Proquest Investments, Aberdare Ventures, and Versant Ventures.
After going public in 2006, San Diego-based Cadence Pharmaceuticals, which in-licenses and develops infection-fighting products for use in hospital settings, continued to raise private equity funding, including approximately $25 million in 2008 and $87 million in 2009. Investors included Venrock, Frazier Healthcare and Technology Ventures, Domain Associates, Versant Ventures, New Enterprise Associates, Bay City Capital, and T. Rowe Price Associates.
Hyperion Therapeutics, based in South San Francisco, closed a $60 million Series C financing to fund Phase II and Phase III clinical trials for its gastroenterology and hepatology therapies. Bay City Capital and Panorama Capital led the financing. which included existing investors, Highland Capital Partners, New Enterprise Associates, and Sofinnova Ventures.
Anacor Pharmaceuticals raised $50 million in January from GlaxoSmithKline, Schering-Plough, Rho Ventures, Venrock Associates, Care Capital, and Aberdare Ventures to further develop products based on its boron chemistry platform.
Proteon Therapeutics raised $50 million in Series B funding to continue clinical studies and development of its products targeted at preventing arteriovenous fistula maturation failure and arteriovenous graft failure in patients with end-stage renal disease who are on or preparing for hemodialysis. Investors included Bessemer Venture Partners, Devon Park Bioventures, TVM Capital, Skyline Ventures, Prism VentureWorks, Intersouth Partners, and several of Proteon’s original angel investors.
Symphogen, a Danish company founded in 2000, raised €33 million from Essex Woodlands Health Ventures and existing investors to support clinical development of its antibody products.
Cempra Pharmaceuticals was formed in 2006 in North Carolina. In May, it closed $46 million of Series C financing that will be used to advance clinical development of the company’s lead antibiotic compounds and the company’s preclinical pipeline. Investing in the round were Quaker BioVentures, Devon Park Bioventures, Aisling Capital, Intersouth Partners, and others.