Resurgent Newron hauls in $25.5M for its CNS pipeline

Two months removed from winning European approval for its lead drug, Italian biotech Newron Pharmaceuticals has raised $25.5 million to jump-start its pipeline assets, pushing forward with a stable of CNS candidates.

The latest funds complete a back-from-the-dead story for the Milan-headquartered company, whose lead asset failed in 2010, sending partner Merck KGaA out the door and would-be acquirer Biotie looking elsewhere. In the ensuing years, Newron kept the faith in its top prospect, the Parkinson's disease treatment safinamide, recruiting Italian drugmaker Zambon to support another clinical trial and eventually scoring continental approval.

Now, with Zambon gearing up to launch the drug--rechristened Xadago--in Europe, Newron is turning its attention to its pipeline. With the new cash, the company plans to advance sarizotan, a treatment for the rare Rett's syndrome, through Phase II. And Newron is investing in NW-3509, an add-on therapy for schizophrenia, with ambitions of starting a Phase II trial in the third quarter. The company is also at work on sNN0031, a mid-stage treatment for Parkinson's sufferers who don't respond to standard therapies; and sNN0029, for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

Meanwhile, the FDA has accepted Newron's application for a stateside Xadago approval, reversing an earlier decision, and the company expects to hear final word by December. If everything goes according to plan, Newron believes its drug could bring in more than $500 million in revenue at its peak. And, if the company can prove Xadago prevents the involuntary movements that often characterize Parkinson's, that figure could more than double, Rx Securities analyst Samir Devani told Bloomberg last month.

Newron's latest private placement involved Aviva, J.P. Morgan Asset Management, Investor AB, Sphera Global HealthCare Fund and Nyenburgh, the company said.

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