Venrock

Venrock

Dollars: $45.28 million
Deals: 6
Based: Cambridge, MA; New York; Palo Alto, CA
Website: venrock.com
Founded: 1969

Laurance Rockefeller, one of John D. Rockefeller's sons, founded Venrock in 1969 to expand on the venture capital investing that he started in the 1930s. The venture capital firm began investing in healthcare in the 1980s and is now a busy player in biopharma. Notably, it was a Series A founding investor in 5 of the largest biotech companies ever created, including Centocor, Gilead ($GILD) and Idec. 

More recently, the firm has been interested in healthcare IT and harnessing the social web, according to its website. But it still has a major foothold in the biotech arena.

Looking at some of Venrock's 2012 venture deals, it's clear that the firm is interested in novel technology, from seed cash all the way through late-stage investments, with a keen interest in therapies that have the potential to fulfill unmet needs in the market.

One of those companies is San Diego-based Celladon, which raised nearly $53 million in 2012 for work on Mydicar, an experimental gene therapy in midphase trials to treat patients suffering from heart failure.

Last year, Venrock also backed Intarcia Therapeutics, which raised $155.9 million in a fresh round of financing to fund its Phase III program for ITCA 650--a therapy designed to be the first once-yearly, injection-free diabetes drug.

At the end of last year, Venrock added the Cambridge, MA-based Cerulean Pharma to its portfolio. Cerulean is developing cancer-fighting nanopharmaceuticals, including a treatment called CRLX101, which ties nano-sized particles of a particularly toxic therapy to a polymer, creating a structure designed to thread its way through the unique tissue found in the blood vessels of a tumor in a carefully targeted attack on cancer.

The drug has shown promise--it's currently being investigated in four clinical trials and is being studied in combination with Avastin in renal cell carcinoma and as a monotherapy in ovarian, gastric, and small cell lung cancer. But after raising $80 million in capital, Cerulean was dealt a blow in March as its lead candidate flopped in a Phase IIb study, missing an ambitious main endpoint of overall survival in patients with non-small cell lung cancer.

Venrock execs were not available for an interview.

For more:
Venrock gets lean and mean with $350M venture fund
Intarcia enrolls PhIII glucose control study for Type 2 diabetes
Defining 'fierce' in the modern age of drug and device development

-- Emily Mullin (email | Twitter)

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