Virdante Pharmaceuticals Secures Funding to Improve Antibody-based Therapeutics for Autoimmune and Inflammatory Disorders

Virdante Pharmaceuticals Secures Funding to Improve Antibody-based Therapeutics for Autoimmune and Inflammatory Disorders

CAMBRIDGE, Mass.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Virdante Pharmaceuticals today announced its debut with the closing of a new financing, management additions and expansion of internal product development programs. Virdante Pharmaceuticals was initially funded in 2008 to develop safer and more effective biopharmaceuticals based on the pioneering research by Jeffrey Ravetch, M.D., Ph.D., of The Rockefeller University. Virdante is incorporating Dr. Ravetch's "Sialic Switch" technology to improve the anti-inflammatory activity of antibody-based drugs to treat autoimmune and inflammatory disorders.

$47.75 Million Series A Financing

Virdante extended its Series A financing, with the recent expansion led by Thomas, McNerney & Partners with participation by Osage Partners and previous investors: Clarus Ventures, Venrock, MedImmune Ventures and Biogen Idec New Ventures. The new funds bring the Series A total since January 2008 up to $47.75 million.

"Virdante's Sialic Switch technology represents a breakthrough in the understanding and modulation of the inflammatory response that can be applied to human antibody therapeutics, which make up a significant and growing share of the global pharmaceutical market," commented Eric Aguiar, M.D., Partner at Thomas, McNerney & Partners. "Dr. Ravetch's work suggests that this technology could have a significant impact on the $4 billion market for plasma-derived IVIG products. We believe the Sialic Switch technology also has the potential to improve antibodies that exploit other anti-inflammatory pathways for a variety of autoimmune and inflammatory diseases."

Additions to Management and Board of Directors

Over the last year, Virdante has attracted a leadership team with a track record of success in the biotechnology industry. Recent additions include: L. Patrick Gage, Ph.D., Executive Chairman of the Board; Cristina Csimma, PharmD, Vice President of Drug Development; and Rajeev Chillakuru, Vice President of Pharmaceutical Sciences. Eric Aguiar, M.D., Partner at Thomas, McNerney & Partners also joined the Virdante Board of Directors.

Virdante's other Board members include: Anders Hove, M.D., Partner at Venrock; John Ripple, Chief Executive Officer; Michael Steinmetz, Ph.D., Managing Director at Clarus Ventures; and Gail Wasserman, Ph.D., Senior Vice President, Development, MedImmune.

"The leadership team at Virdante is committed to rapidly achieving human proof of concept for the broad applications of our Sialic Switch technology by advancing our lead sIVIG development candidate into the clinic," stated John Ripple. "Our business model is to develop and commercialize a proprietary pipeline of biopharmaceuticals and to apply our technology to development candidates from a select group of corporate partners."

Virdante's sIVIG and sFc Development Programs

Virdante's lead program, sIVIG, applies Sialic Switch technology to increase the anti-inflammatory potency of plasma-derived intravenous immune globulin ("IVIG"). This novel approach reduces the time to administer a therapeutic dose from days to hours. IVIG is used to treat inflammatory and autoimmune disorders, representing over $4 billion in worldwide revenues in 2008.

Virdante also announced today that the Company plans to use the proceeds from the new financing to pursue development of a second drug, a sialylated recombinant IgG Fc fragment ("sFc"), the segment of IgG responsible for the anti-inflammatory activity of IVIG. In addition, Virdante plans to expand the application of its Sialic Switch technology to improve the potency of important anti-inflammatory antibodies such as anti-TNF drugs.

About Sialic Switch Technology

Virdante's proprietary Sialic Switch technology increases the anti-inflammatory activity of antibody-based drugs by enhancing signaling via a novel pathway. Dr. Jeffrey Ravetch, the Company's founder and professor at The Rockefeller University and a member of both the National Academy of Sciences and the Institute of Medicine, discovered this novel anti-inflammatory pathway activated by specifically sialylated Fc-linked glycans of IgG antibodies. This discovery was based on the observation that only a minor fraction of the pooled IgG molecules in IVIG is responsible for the therapeutic anti-inflammatory properties of the drug due to specific sialic acid linkages on their Fc-linked glycans. Virdante has exclusively licensed the Sialic Switch technology from The Rockefeller University and established a strategic research alliance with Dr. Ravetch's laboratory to continue to explore this novel anti-inflammatory pathway. Dr. Ravetch has further shown that these anti-inflammatory properties can be reproduced with a fully recombinant preparation of appropriately sialylated IgG Fc fragments (sFc), providing a more efficacious and potent treatment at lower dose levels. Virdante is using enzymatic methods to apply the Sialic Switch technology to antibody-based therapeutics. References on the Sialic Switch technology can be found on Virdante's website,

About Virdante

Virdante Pharmaceuticals is developing safer and more effective drugs for autoimmune and inflammatory diseases. Our products incorporate a proprietary "Sialic Switch" technology to improve the anti-inflammatory properties of antibodies. Virdante's investors include: Clarus Ventures; Venrock; Thomas, McNerney & Partners; MedImmune Ventures; Biogen Idec New Ventures; and Osage Partners. Virdante is located in Cambridge, MA.