Aratana adds $15M in VC cash for new pet drug deals with biopharmas

A biotech upstart in Kansas City, KS has garnered $15 million in venture cash to fund deals that will take some of the therapies in development for humans and adapt them to the booming market for drugs that can be used to treat family pets. MPM Capital, Avalon Ventures and Cultivian Ventures, all Series A investors, took a bite in the second venture round for Aratana Therapeutics, joined by the local Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. The money comes on top of Aratana's initial $20 million round in January.

"It is an endorsement of our strategy of identifying and developing compounds from human pharmaceutical and biotech companies and bringing approved products to the animal health market via out-licensing or partnering with major animal health companies," said Aratana CEO Dr. Linda Rhodes.

Back in March Aratana reported a pact with Japan's RaQualia, in-licensing two experimental compounds in development for pain and frailty to use for dogs and cats. None of the financial details were disclosed, but Aratana paid out an upfront payment, promised milestones and included a royalty stream in the deal.

"Everything about Aratana is innovative," said Steven St. Peter, a managing partner at MPM, "from how we envisioned and started the company to our approach to drug development and how we involve new investors."

- here's the press release