Press Release: Locus Pharmaceuticals Completes $30.2 Million Financing Round
Locus Pharmaceuticals Completes $30.2 Million Financing Round Locus Pharmaceuticals, Inc., a computationally based drug design and development company, announced today that it has closed on a $30.2 million financing. Novartis Bioventures Ltd., Prism Venture Partners and HBM BioVentures (Cayman) Ltd. co-led the round. S.R. One, Limited and L Capital Partners SBIC, L.P. also participated, as did certain other existing shareholders of the Company. Novartis Bioventures, HBM BioVentures (Cayman) Ltd., L Capital Partners and S.R. One are new investors to Locus. Prism Venture Partners is Locus' founding investor. The proceeds from the financing, combined with partnering income from external collaborations, are expected to fund Locus' operations for several years during which time the Company anticipates having human clinical data for its lead programs in oncology and inflammation. "What really seemed to resonate with investors was our combination of being a clinical stage company with multiple internal development programs coupled with, and all derived from, our unique computational drug design pipeline engine," said H. Joseph Reiser, Ph.D., Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Locus. "As a result of this funding, we will be moving more programs into the clinic in addition to advancing our LP-261 cancer program already in Phase I," added Dr. Reiser. In connection with the financing, Markus Goebel, M.D., Ph.D. (Novartis Bioventures), Erich Platzer, M.D., Ph.D. (HBM Partners, Zurich, Switzerland), Joyce A. Lonergan (S.R. One) and Ting Pau Oei (L Capital) will be joining the board of directors of Locus. Piper Jaffray & Co. acted as placement agent. About Locus Pharmaceuticals Locus is a world leader in computational drug design. The Company's core technology is a fragment-based, computational approach, which Locus has combined with highly integrated medicinal chemistry, crystallography and biology capabilities to create a unique drug design and development platform. Locus is using its capabilities to develop its own compounds and has also entered into drug design/development collaborations with pharmaceutical partners, including Amgen, Dow AgroSciences, Eli Lilly and Ono Pharmaceuticals. All of the Company's internal development programs emanate from its computational technology and are focused on oral drug therapies, principally in cancer and inflammation. In its most advanced program, Locus is conducting a multi-center Phase I clinical study with LP-261, an orally administered anti-cancer compound which binds at a novel site on tubulin. Tubulin targeting agents are one of the largest markets in the pharmaceutical industry. In preclinical studies, LP-261 has been shown to be effective in taxol-resistant cells and vinca-resistant cells, both of which also target tubulin, and in primary leukemia cells isolated from Gleevec-resistant patients. In its lead inflammation program, Locus has created exquisitely selective p38 inhibitors which bind to p38 at an allosteric site and do not involve the ATP site. The ubiquitous ATP site has been the focus of other p38 development programs that have failed in the clinic, principally due to unacceptable side effects. It is Locus' hypothesis that the side effects result from the low selectivity of those ATP inhibitors. By being able to target the highly selective allosteric site, which Locus believes its proprietary technology has uniquely enabled, Locus' approach may offer an improved safety profile compared to other compounds. Additional programs are expanding on Locus' core competence in kinases for the development of angiogenic inhibitors and other targeted therapies. Locus also has collaborations with the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and National Institutes of Health (NIH). The Locus Technology Starting with a protein crystal structure, an in silico collection of 40,000 molecular fragments and one of the world's largest privately-owned Linux-based supercomputer clusters, Locus first identifies optimum ligand binding sites and the binding affinity of molecular fragments on protein targets. The fragments are then assembled computationally into virtual drug candidates with accurately predicted binding potency and tailored chemical properties. The result is a 'virtual library' of drug candidates that exceeds the size and diversity of any physical screening library by orders of magnitude. Because of the speed and accuracy with which these virtual libraries are constructed and evaluated, Locus typically needs to synthesize only hundreds of compounds to generate highly potent lead molecules. Locus is privately-held. Visit www.locuspharma.com for more information.