Pfizer venture arm joins $25M round for Aquinox

Pfizer Venture Investments has joined a group of venture groups to provide a $25 million Series B round for Aquinox Pharmaceuticals, a Canadian start-up working on anti-inflammatories. Ventures West Capital led the round for the biotech, with Johnson & Johnson Development Corporation, Baker Brothers Investments and BC Advantage Funds joining in.

"I am pleased to be joining the Aquinox Board as our investment and support will assist a team demonstrating progress in advancing SHIP1 agonists as promising potential new small molecule, anti-inflammatory drugs," said Dr. Elaine Jones, executive director of Pfizer Venture Investments.  Aquinox's lead clinical candidate, AQX-1125, is described as "a highly active and selective small molecule allosteric activator of SHIP1 suitable for once-daily oral dosing." The Vancouver-based biotech expects to file an IND in 2010.

"Being in a position to commence clinical trials in 2011 will allow us to expand upon the early stage preclinical work demonstrating that SHIP1 agonists exhibit important differences over traditional PI3K inhibitors, which may make them suited for the treatment of chronic respiratory and inflammatory diseases," said CEO David Main.

- here's the Aquinox release