Lilly Ventures leads $24M round for Cerulean's PhII

With a big assist from Eli Lilly's ($LLY) venture arm, Cambridge, MA-based Cerulean Pharma has rounded up $24 million in Series C cash. The money will be used to fuel a mid-stage trial of its lead drug for non-small cell lung cancer--with investigators targeting overall survival as the primary endpoint--while pushing another drug candidate into the clinic.

Cerulean is using nanoparticle technology that promises to improve the safety and efficacy of new as well as existing drugs. CEO Oliver Fetzer told FierceBiotech back in 2009 that the developer is using its own technology along with the IP it gained from a licensing deal with Calando Pharmaceuticals. The company has now raised an impressive $54 million in VC cash. Lilly Ventures led the round with Polaris Venture Partners, Venrock, Lux Capital and Bessemer Venture Partners stepping up to chip in additional funds.

"Cerulean's nanopharmaceutical platform has enabled new product candidates that demonstrate dramatic pre-clinical efficacy in multiple disease models. We are excited to join the existing investors as Cerulean advances CRLX101 and additional candidates through clinical development," said Steve Hall, a venture partner at Lilly Ventures who is taking a seat on Cerulean's board.

- here's the Cerulean release