Akarna will use the funds to accelerate the development of its lead FXR agonist drug candidate through human proof-of-concept studies in patients with non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), a progressive form of fatty-liver disease for which there are no approved therapies.
"Patients suffering from this debilitating disease desperately need therapies that are effective and well-tolerated," stated Dr. Raju Mohan, Chief Executive Officer of Akarna. "We believe our lead drug candidate has the potential to treat NASH while avoiding some of the serious side effects associated with other therapies in development. We greatly appreciate the support of our investors who share this vision."
"Akarna's team has an impressive track record of developing novel compounds targeting diseases with significant unmet medical need," stated Marco Boorsma, Partner at Forbion Capital Partners. "We are excited to participate in this financing and to support Akarna's efforts to develop a best-in-class therapy for NASH."
"We are delighted to have Forbion join us in the current round," added Somu Subramaniam, Managing Partner at New Science Ventures. "The Akarna team has made tremendous progress in 2015 and we look forward to continuing the momentum as we move rapidly towards human clinical trials."
NASH is a progressive form of fatty-liver disease that has been directly associated with diabetes and obesity. Excessive accumulation of fat in the liver induces chronic inflammation, which causes progressive fibrosis, cirrhosis and eventually end-stage liver disease. The prevalence of NASH is increasing worldwide as diabetes and obesity reach epidemic proportions yet there are currently no approved therapies. It is estimated that as many as 5% of the US population has NASH with about eight million patients worldwide with advanced disease. NASH is projected to become the leading indication for liver transplant by 2020.
FXR is a nuclear hormone receptor expressed in the liver, intestine, kidney and fat. FXR has been a target of great interest to biotech and pharmaceutical companies over the past decade because of its role as a master regulator of carbohydrate and lipid metabolism, bile-acid homeostasis, inflammation and fibrosis, all of which are associated with the pathology and progression of NASH. FXR is recognized as a clinically validated target for NASH and other liver diseases, such as primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC).
About Forbion Capital Partners
Forbion Capital Partners is a dedicated life sciences venture capital firm with offices in The Netherlands, Germany and the United States. Forbion invests in life sciences companies in the pharmaceutical, as well as the medical device space. Forbion's investment team has built an impressive performance track record since the late nineties with successful investments in multiple companies. Forbion manages €700M across six funds, including the new fund FCF III. For further information please visit us atwww.forbion.com.
About New Science Ventures
New Science Ventures, LLC (NSV) is a New York-based venture capital firm that invests in companies using novel scientific approaches in the life sciences sector (biotech, pharma and medical devices) and the information technology sector (semiconductors, photonics and advanced materials). NSV was founded in 2004 by Somu Subramaniam, Managing Partner, and Tom Lavin, Partner, and has invested approximately $450 million in both early and late stage companies located in the United States, Europe and India. For more information please visit us at www.newscienceventures.com.
About Third Point Ventures
Third Point Ventures is the emerging technology investment arm of Third Point LLC. Third Point LLC is an SEC-registered investment adviser based in New York City. The firm was founded in 1995 by Daniel S. Loeb, who serves as its CEO and oversees all investment activity. Third Point employs an event-driven, value-oriented investment style. Third Point's team includes professionals focused on investment activity, risk management and trading. This team is supported by highly experienced accounting, operations, investor relations and marketing, and legal and compliance professionals. For more information, please visit us at www.thirdpointventures.com.
About Akarna Therapeutics
Akarna Therapeutics is a privately held biopharmaceutical company developing novel small molecule therapeutics that target inflammatory and fibrotic diseases for which there is no approved treatment. Akarna's lead program is a potential best-in-class FXR agonist for the treatment of non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). Akarna's lead candidate is currently in preclinical, IND-enabling toxicology and safety pharmacology studies. Akarna is a UK-registered company with offices in Cambridge, UK and San Diego, USA. For more information, please visit us at www.akarna.com.