Cortendo lines up $27.5M to get its orphan drug through Phase III

Swedish-American biotech Cortendo has signed up to raise as much as $27.5 million in private placement cash, funds that will help push its rare disease treatment through late-stage trials.

Cortendo CEO Matthew Pauls

The company has inked agreements with stateside investors RA Capital Management, New Enterprise Associates, and Broadfin Capital, plus European backer HealthCap. With the proceeds, Cortendo plans to bankroll the ongoing development of a treatment for Cushing's syndrome, an orphan endocrine disorder that leads to tumor growth.

Cortendo's lead candidate, COR-003, is a souped-up version of the now-generic ketoconazole, already used off-label as a Cushing's treatment. The biotech has come up with a proprietary spin on the drug that makes it safer and better targeted, CEO Matthew Pauls said, and Cortendo is now working through a Phase III trial to prove its promise in endogenous Cushing's syndrome.

The latest funds come just a few months after Cortendo banked $11 million to get COR-003's late-stage program rolling. Pauls, a Shire ($SHPG) veteran who joined the company in mid-2014, is working on a long-term strategy of Americanizing the biotech, first by moving its headquarters and eventually by pulling off a U.S. IPO.

"This agreement with three new leading U.S. institutional investors and HealthCap demonstrates their confidence in Cortendo and significantly strengthens the Company as we move forward with our U.S. financing strategy in 2015," Pauls said in a statement. "... We also intend to leverage both our commercial and late-stage development expertise and work with potential partners to expand our orphan disease portfolio."

- read the statement

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