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GEN News Highlights : Mar 12, 2012

HemaQuest Raises $13M to Fund Phase II Study with Sickle Cell/Thalassemia Drug

Short chain fatty acid candidate HQK-1001 is designed to induce fetal hemoglobin and RBC production.

HemaQuest Pharmaceuticals raised $13 million in an extension to its Series B financing round led by existing investors. The firm will use the funds to carry out a Phase IIb study evaluating its lead short chain fatty acid derivative (SCFAD) compound HQK-1001 in patients with sickle cell disease.

Seattle-based HemaQuest was established in 2007 to develop small molecule drugs for the treatment of serious hematologic disorders. The firm’s IP is centered on the SCFAD technology originally developed at Boston University School of Medicine. The platform comprises orally administered SCFADs that demonstrate epigenetic mechanisms of action to target the expression of key genes required to generate their therapeutic effects.

Lead candidate HQK-1001 is designed to stimulate fetal hemoglobin expression and red blood cell production, and has already been evaluated in clinical trials in patients with sickle cell diseases and beta thalassemia. Orphan drug designation for both the sickle cell and thalassemia indications has been granted in the U.S. and Europe.