Aldea raises $24M to push alcohol-poisoning antidote to the clinic

Aldea Pharmaceuticals closed a $24 million round of Series B equity financing to support the development of a drug designed to mitigate the severe--and sometimes deadly--effects of alcohol poisoning.

Two new investors, Russian venture firm RusnanoMedInvest and China's WuXi PharmaTech Corporate Ventures, contributed to the round, along with previous investors like Canaan Partners and Correlation Ventures.

It's unusual to see a Russian and a Chinese venture group pairing up to back a U.S. biotech company, but the unorthodox union might be explained by the problems Russia and China both face related to alcohol consumption. A 2014 report by the World Health Organization found that Russia had the most risky patterns of drinking. The same report also identified an increase in alcohol consumption in China over a 5-year period from 2006 to 2010. While Russia's alcohol consumption is more deep-seated, the WHO report said China's is related to rapid economic development and a rise in the average household income.

Aldea says it will use the cash to advance its lead drug candidate, AD-6626, into clinical trials. The drug works by activating ALDH2, a target Aldea believes will enable the human body to get rid of toxic aldehydes, found in alcohol. With the funding, Aldea will conduct proof-of-concept studies for the treatment of subjects with acute alcohol intoxication. After that, the Redwood City, CA-based company plans to launch Phase II trials of intravenous AD-6626 in an emergency room setting.

Researchers at Stanford University were the first to use small-molecule modulators of the aldehyde dehydrogenase enzyme superfamily and exclusively licensed the technology to Aldea. Using this approach, the company is also exploring the use of AD-6626 to treat Fanconi anemia and other diseases and conditions associated with toxic aldehydes, compounds that are believed to be related to some neurodegenerative diseases and types of cancer. Fanconi anemia is a rare genetic disease that mainly affects the bone marrow. The company also plans to fund a Phase I/II proof-of-biology study in that indication.

In the U.S., acute alcohol intoxication, or alcohol poisoning, accounts for millions of emergency room admissions every year; an estimated 10% to 15% of all ER visits are associated with alcohol consumption.

No drug exists to treat alcohol toxicity. Patients with acute alcohol poisoning essentially have to wait it out at the ER until the alcohol is metabolized from their systems before being discharged.

- read the press release