Potentia Pharma Raises $12 Million

Potentia Pharmaceuticals Inc., a Louisville, Ky.-based drug startup focused on complement-related chronic inflammatory diseases such as AMD, has raised $12 million in new VC funding. HealthCare Ventures led the round, and was joined by return backer MASA Life Science Ventures.




Potentia Pharmaceuticals, Inc., a private development-stage biotechnology company, announced today that it has completed a $12 million round of financing. The funds will allow Potentia to complete Phase I and move into Phase II clinical development of Potentia's novel investigational drug candidate, POT-4. POT-4 is a peptide that specifically inhibits complement activation and is initially being developed for the treatment of age-related macular degeneration (AMD).


The financing was led by HealthCare Ventures, a leading venture capital firm specializing in the life science industry, and MASA Life Science Ventures, LP, one of Potentia's previous investors. In connection with the financing, Douglas E. Onsi of HealthCare Ventures will join Potentia's board of directors.


“Millions of patients are eager for an effective treatment for dry AMD. Complement inhibition, using therapies such as POT-4, is the most promising approach being developed for these people,” said Cedric Francois, co-founder and CEO of Potentia Pharmaceuticals. “This additional funding will allow us to complete Phase I and move into Phase II clinical trials of POT-4 which is a first-in-class complement therapy that we believe will revolutionize the treatment for AMD. We are very grateful for the continued support by our original investors and are extremely pleased to have a venture capital group with the stature of HealthCare Ventures on board as our newest investor.”


Douglas E. Onsi of HealthCare Ventures commented, “We were very impressed by Potentia's experienced management team and the company's unique approach to the treatment of AMD. HealthCare Ventures invests in companies, like Potentia, that open new avenues of research and develop novel products that will change the practice of medicine.”


AMD is the leading cause of blindness in the elderly of the western world. An estimated 10 million patients in the USA are affected with the disease, of which approximately 3 million are afflicted with an advanced form of the disease, moreover this number is expected to double over the next ten to fifteen years. Dry AMD is the most common form of the disease, accounting for about 85% of all cases. AMD represents a multi-billion dollar market for which only a limited number of treatment options are available.


About Potentia Pharmaceuticals, Inc.


Potentia Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (http://www.potentiapharma.com) is a private, development-stage biotechnology company that is developing new approaches to the treatment of complement-related chronic inflammatory diseases such as AMD. Potentia is based in Louisville, KY.


About Potentia's AMD Program


With the ultimate goal of making AMD a treatable disease, Potentia's AMD program focuses on developing new therapies that target AMD early in the disease process by targeting the complement system. Potentia's first product is POT-4, a complement component C3 inhibitor formulated to be dosed less frequently than currently approved AMD therapies. Potentia is currently conducting a Phase I trial of POT-4 in patients with the wet AMD and also intends to conduct clinical trials in patients with geographic atrophy, a form of dry AMD.


About the Complement System and POT-4


Complement activation is an inflammatory process involving dozens of plasma proteins, ultimately leading to cell membrane disruption through the membrane attack complex (MAC). Activation of the complement system is an important part of the body's defensive immune response against pathogens such as bacteria and viruses. In spite of its defensive function, inappropriate or excessive complement activation can have destructive consequences if left unchecked. Over the past two years, multiple scientific publications have strongly linked variants of genes encoding components of the complement system with a predisposition toward AMD.


POT-4 binds tightly to complement component C3, preventing its participation in the complement activation cascade. As C3 is the central component of all major complement activation pathways, its inhibition effectively shuts down downstream complement activation that could otherwise lead to local inflammation, tissue damage and upregulation of angiogenic factors such as vascular endothelial growth factors (VEGF).


About Age-Related Macular Degeneration


AMD is the progressive deterioration of the critical central region of the retina called the macula. This disorder leads to irreversible loss of central vision. More than 25 million patients worldwide (over 10 million in the US alone) suffer from AMD, including roughly one-quarter of those 70 years and older. Ten to fifteen percent of patients with AMD develop a complication in which leaky blood vessels grow into the eye. This form of the disease is referred to as 'neovascular' or 'wet' AMD, as opposed to 'atrophic' or 'dry' AMD when this complication does not emerge. Treatment of AMD is currently limited to drugs that prevent blood vessel growth and are therefore only efficacious in cases of wet AMD.