Sanofi leads Series B for cancer drug developer Esperance

A trio of biotech companies on both sides of the Atlantic reported gaining new venture funds to help advance their drug and med tech development work. In Louisiana Esperance Pharmaceuticals reported that Sanofi led a $7.5 million Series B for its lead cancer drug, EP-100. And in Europe Sapiens raised €13 million in a Series A to fund the development of a deep brain stimulation system.

Sanofi contributed the lion's share of the fresh support for Esperance, with a $4.5 million contribution that includes clinical and regulatory help. The biotech is using new technology to develop a portfolio of membrane-disrupting peptides designed to selectively destroy cancer cells that express target receptors. EP-100 is designed to seek and destroy cancer cells that over-express luteinizing hormone releasing hormone receptors on their surfaces and is currently in a Phase I study in patients with advanced solid tumors.

"We are extremely pleased to welcome Sanofi as an investor and strategic partner to Esperance and we are grateful for the unanimous, continued support of our current investors," said Hector Alila, PhD, president and CEO of Esperance Pharmaceuticals. "We believe the quality of this syndicate speaks directly to the significant potential of our pipeline and we look forward to being able to deliver on the clinical promise of EP-100 and our CLYP platform technology."

The U.K.'s Shield Therapeutics raised $12 million in its first round tro fund a Phase III pivotal program and marketing app for ST10-021, an oral drug for iron deficiency anemia, a symptom of both ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease. Shield Therapeutics will commence international Phase III trials of ST10-021 in patients in the second half of this year. Inventages Venture Capital provided the cash.

"We look forward to working closely with the Inventages team to benefit from both their experience of working with high-growth companies like Shield and their excellent track record in helping to create significant value for shareholders," says  Carl Sterritt, CEO and co-founder of Shield. Shield is now well positioned to build upon the progress achieved to date as we can accelerate our plans and commence AEGIS I and II--the pivotal trials for ST10-021--during 2011."

Sapiens, a spinoff of Philips Research, is developing deep brain stimulation and software to treat late-stage Parkinson's disease, dystonia, obsessive compulsive disorders and more recently epilepsy. The three founders--Michel Decré, Hubert Martens and Sjaak Deckers--led the work on deep brain stimulation within Philips Research from 2006 to today.

- check out the Esperance release
- see the release on Shield
- and here's the release from Sapiens