OrphoMed said today it has completed a $39 million Series A financing round whose proceeds will be used to advance clinical development of its lead candidate, a peripherally acting dimer designed to treat irritable bowel syndrome with diarrhea (IBS-D).

OrphoMed owns full rights to lead candidate ORP-101, a metabolically stable, partial agonist of the μ opioid receptor and antagonist of the κ opioid receptor that is designed to mitigate both abdominal pain due to intestinal hyperalgesia and gastric hypermotility associated with IBS-D, without central nervous system penetration. According to OrphoMed, ORP-101 has consistently suppressed general and colon-specific hyperalgesic signals in multiple animal models.

On May 7, OrphoMed CEO Nikhilesh Singh, Ph.D., and colleagues presented preclinical research at Digestive Disease Week, held May 6–9 in Chicago, concluding that ORP-101 has the potential to be more effective than Allergan’s marketed drug Viberzi® (eluxadoline), a μ opioid receptor agonist, in treating colonic hyperalgesia with no adverse effects with respect to biliary or gastric motility.

OrphoMed has also cited research showing ORP-101 did not cause constriction of the sphincter of Oddi that could result in acute pancreatitis, as may occur with other μ agonists.

New Enterprise Associates (NEA) led the financing round, which was co-led by existing seed investor Takeda Ventures, the corporate venture capital group of Takeda Pharmaceutical, with participation from other prior investors—Pappas Capital, through its newest fund Pappas Ventures V; Relativity Healthcare Partners; and the Mario Family Fund.

In conjunction with the financing, Frank Torti, M.D., a partner at NEA, and Arthur Pappas, managing partner of Pappas Capital, will join the company's board. They will join existing directors, Michael Martin, Ph.D., global head of Takeda Ventures; Kenneth Widder, M.D., the company’s executive chairman; and Dr. Singh.

“We are committed to developing drugs for gastrointestinal and hepatic conditions where there is a need for more efficacious and safer treatments,” Dr. Singh said. “We are excited by the investment from top-tier venture groups, as it validates the company's technology and strategy to pursue ORP-101, which has the potential to be a superior treatment alternative to existing therapies for IBS-D.”

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