Allergy biotech hauls in $80M for its oral immunotherapy

Food allergy upstart Allergen Research Corporation (ARC) raised an $80 million B round to get its lead candidate into late-stage development, pushing ahead with a treatment for peanut allergies.

The company, headquartered in San Mateo, CA, is developing an oral peanut allergy treatment that uses a slow, steadily up-dosing regimen of pharmaceutical-grade peanut proteins to reeducate the immune system. Unlike postreaction treatments like epinephrine, ARC's immunotherapy gradually diminishes the body's response and eventually results in allergen desensitization, the company said.

The new money--courtesy of Foresite Capital, Longitude Capital, Fidelity, Aisling Capital, Adage Capital and RA Capital Management--will fund a Phase III trial of the immunotherapy, dubbed AR 101. The oral treatment met its goals in a placebo-controlled Phase II trial last year, ARC said, and the FDA has granted AR 101 its fast-track designation, promising a speedy review once the company wraps up Phase III.

The sizable B round comes on the heels of a $17 million Series A closed in 2013. Beyond AR 101, the cash will also help advance immune system-training treatments for egg and milk allergies, ARC said, with new clinical trials slated to begin in the coming year. The company previously disclosed plans to eventually target soy, wheat, shrimp, fish and tree nut allergies.

"People living with food allergies, many of whom are children, are at risk of life-threatening reactions to common everyday foods," CEO Stephen Dilly said in a statement. "... We are dedicated to developing standardized products for desensitization so that people and families living with food allergies can gain peace of mind."

In tandem with the financing, Foresite CEO Jim Tananbaum and Aisling Partner Stacey Seltzer will take seats on ARC's board.

- read the statement