Sierra Neuropharmaceuticals, an Aurora, Colo.-based developer of “direct-to-the-brain” treatments, has raised $21.5 million in Series A funding. HealthCare Ventures, Morgenthaler Ventures and Sequel Ventures co-led the round, with High Country Ventures and GC&H Investments also participating.
Sierra Neuropharmaceuticals, Inc., a formulator of pharmaceuticals for direct-to-the-brain treatment of neurological diseases, announced a $21.5-million venture capital Series A financing. Co-leads in the funding were HealthCare Ventures, Morgenthaler Ventures, and Sequel Venture Partners. Other investors include High Country Venture and GC&H Investments LLC.
Sierra uses a proprietary drug development process that makes use of standard implantable pumps placed surgically under the skin which deliver drugs directly to the fluid around the brain via a catheter. The approach aims to help patients suffering from severe epilepsy, depression, schizophrenia and other neurological diseases who, until now, have had to treat their conditions by taking drugs orally. “Many current oral therapies are limited in their use due to severe side effects and possible toxicities,” says Daniel Abrams, M.D., Sierra's founder, Chief Scientific Officer, and Acting CEO. “For patients, this means they may be denied access to medicines that could otherwise be of great benefit. Even for those drugs that can safely be taken orally, patients often have difficulty maintaining a proper pill regimen and may take only 50-80% of their required dosage. By reformulating existing pharmaceuticals and delivering them via an implanted device, better treatment and new options can be made available to patients.”
It is estimated that more than 10 million people in the United States and Europe suffer from severe neurological diseases not adequately treated by current oral medications and would benefit from a new approach. “We think Sierra's new approach offers a broad new pathway for treating neurological diseases,” he says, “and an opportunity to enhance patient lives.”
To further develop therapies and win FDA approval, Abrams says Sierra will work closely with both pump manufacturers and pharmaceutical companies. The latter, he says, could collaborate by developing life cycle regimes for existing drugs that will now be used at different dosing levels or, alternatively, by co-developing future CNS drugs that offer more therapeutic and commercial potential when delivered via implantable pump. Sierra's initial products will utilize off-patent drugs and are expected to enter clinical trials within the next year.
About Sierra Neuropharmaceuticals
Sierra Neuropharmaceuticals is a biopharmaceutical company focused on the development and commercialization of centrally-administered, small molecule therapeutics for the treatment of severe CNS diseases refractory to oral medications. These include epilepsy, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders and major depression. The company uses a proprietary drug development process to reformulate pharmaceuticals for direct delivery to the brain via standard implantable pumps. www.sierraneuro.com
About HealthCare Ventures
Founded in 1985, HealthCare Ventures LLC is a leading venture capital firm with offices in Cambridge, MA and Princeton, NJ, specializing in life science industry investing. Over the past 23 years, HealthCare Ventures has raised $1.6 billion in eight funds, and has invested in a total of 93 companies to date. Notable HealthCare Ventures' investments include such companies as Avidia, Dendreon Pharmaceuticals, Human Genome Sciences, LeukoSite, MedImmune, Novazyme, OraSure, Replidyne, Inc., Shire Pharmaceuticals, Tolerx, Verenium Corporation, and Vicuron Pharmaceuticals. www.hcven.com
About Morgenthaler Ventures
Founded in 1968, Morgenthaler is a leading, national venture capital firm with offices in Menlo Park, CA (headquarters); Boston, MA; Cleveland, OH; and Boulder, CO; and with an investment focus on life sciences and information technology. Morgenthaler's life science investments, past and present, include such industry-leading companies as Avidia, CardioThoracic Systems, The Foundry, Morphotek, OncoMed, Orexigen, Perclose, and Xtent. Morgenthaler has a total of $2.5 billion under management. Its most recent fund, capitalized at $450 million, was raised in July of 2005. The firm (www.morgenthaler.com) has funded more than 300 companies over its 40-year history.
About Sequel Venture Partners
Sequel Venture Partners, based in Boulder, Colorado, provides venture funding for early stage technology businesses. Sequel manages $400 million in capital, and specializes in Healthcare, Internet and Enterprise IT, Clean Technology and Internet based services. http://www.sequelvc.com/
About High Country Venture
High Country Venture manages Colorado Fund I, which is a venture capital fund that invests in seed and early stage businesses in Colorado, focusing on Life Sciences (including biotechnology, agritechnology, and medical devices), information technology (including software and Internet companies) and retail. The mission of High Country Venture is to invest in the most promising and innovative early stage Colorado companies, help build them into strong, profitable businesses, and to capture that value creation through strategic financial decisions. http://www.coloradofund1.com/
About GC & H Investments, LLC.