Firm claims peripherally restricted kappa opioid receptor agonist is effective with fewer side effects.

Cara Therapeutics raised $15 million in a Series D financing round to fund continued clinical development of its Phase II-stage lead candidate CR845 for the treatment of post-operative pain. The financing round was led by new investor Rho Ventures and included previous investors in Cara.

CR845 is a peripherally restricted kappa opioid receptor agonist that has undergone Phase IIa studies.  Cara claims the single-dose trials demonstrated the drug’s analgesic efficacy combined with reduction in postoperative nausea following laparascopic hysterectomy. A Phase Ib repeat dose trial is ongoing, which is due for completion by the last quarter of 2010. The firm says it will then carry out a Phase IIb repeat dose efficacy study in laparoscopic hysterectomy patients.

“Due to its peripheral activity and lack of CNS penetration, we believe Cara’s CR845 has a chance to provide opioid-like pain relief while significantly reducing opioid use and its associated side effects,” comments Rho Ventures partner, Martin Vogelbaum, who has been appointed to Cara’s board of directors. “There has been little innovation in postoperative pain treatment where opioid use continues to be the standard of care even though it is associated with significant side effects that present an ongoing pharmacoeconomic burden for hospitals.”

Cara’s pipeline is currently centered on the development of peripherally restricted kappa agonists and modulators of peripheral CB receptors for the treatment of postoperative and neuropathic pain. The firm’s lead CB compound, CR701, is currently in preclinical development.

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