New company starts with $45.4 million in Series A funds and Phase I/II candidates.

GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) has spun out a new pharma company, Convergence Pharmaceuticals, to develop a pipeline of ion-channel targeting drug candidates against chronic pain. Starting out with a $45.4 million pot of Series A financing from a syndicate of European and U.S. life-science investors, Convergence has two ion-channel drug candidates in early clinical development and rights to a series of preclinical candidates. GSK has an 18% minority stake in the new company. Institutional investors in Convergence include Apposite Capital, New Leaf Venture Partners, and SV Life Sciences.

The new company is based at the Babraham Research Campus in Cambridge, U.K. It will be headed by Clive Dix, Ph.D., who has previously held the posts of research director at GSK and head of R&D at PowderJect Pharmaceuticals. Most recently Dr. Dix was chairman of the U.K. BioIndustry Association. Simon Tate, previously vp of the pain and epilepsy discovery performance unit within GSK’s Neuroscience Centre of Excellence for Drug Discovery, has been appointed CSO of Convergence.

Convergence’s lead clinical candidate is the voltage-gated sodium channel blocker CNV1014802. The firm says it will immediately start Phase II proof of concept studies with the drug in neuropathic pain. A voltage-gated calcium channel blocker CNV2197944 is separately being taken into Phase I trials as a potential treatment for neuropathic and inflammatory pain including osteoarthritis. Convergence says both lead compounds have functional attributes that differentiate them from currently available treatments.

The chronic pain market is currently worth some $30 billion, and is expected to reach over $47 billion by 2023, the firm suggests. By this time new pain treatments are expected to represent 22% of the total market.

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