Dollars: $53.02 million
Deals: 13 deals
Based: San Francisco, CA
Founded in 1996 by Dr. Jean Deleage--also a founder of the venture capital firms Burr, Egan, Deleage & Co. and Sofinnova--Alta Partners has a solid track record of investing in biotech companies. Over the past decade, the firm has funded over 180 companies, including some leaders in the biopharmaceuticals industry including The Medicines Company and Onyx Pharmaceuticals ($ONXX). The firm's current life sciences portfolio includes Allakos, Applied Genetic Technologies, Bioventus, Lumena Pharmaceuticals, Zafgen and ZS Pharma.
In an interview with FierceBiotech, Alta's managing director Dan Janney said in 2012 that the kinds of companies the firm invested in were "true early discovery science" companies--including ones focused on orphan diseases and inflammatory diseases.
One of those companies that was especially attractive to Alta was Lumena, Janney said.
"We're very excited about their novel antibodies and their approach to treating certain diseases around diabetes," Janney said. "There are a number of orphan diseases that we think they can attack with their technology, and we think we can get to proof of concept in the next year or two."
Lumena is developing a pill to help type 2 diabetes patients regulate their blood sugar. The San Diego-based company is also working on a new diabetes treatment based on the idea that targeting the bile acid brake in the gastrointestinal tract can correct glucose and feeding abnormalities. The treatment would be aimed at type 2 diabetes patients, who are most likely to undergo gastric bypass surgery.
In November last year, Applied Genetic Technologies, part of a growing group of upstart gene therapy biotechs, reeled in a $37.5 million round of financing. The Alachua, FL-based company is working on developing gene therapy treatments for genetic defects that cause blindness and other systemic disorders. While gene therapy has had its ups and downs over the years amid safety concerns and new technology, Ed Hurwitz, a general partner at Alta, at the time said the VC firm was a big believer in "the business model of developing treatments for genetic disorders."
This year, Janney said Alta is keeping up its investing momentum.
"We're looking for same types of investments, … companies that we think are going to make significant advancements eventually," he said.
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-- Emily Mullin (email | Twitter)