Biotech VC Clarus reaches for $375M in its latest fund

Clarus Ventures is raising $375 million for a third fund, building up its war chest to bankroll new bets on drug and med tech outfits.

The latest raise, disclosed in an SEC filing, comes in well below the $660 million Clarus pulled together in 2008 and its $500 million inaugural fund back in 2005. But, with the industry still mired in an up-and-down climate for biotech venture funding, $375 million can go a long way, and Clarus joins a bevy of life sciences VCs cobbling together new funds amid some renewed optimism.

Clarus has pulled off a string of impressive exits over the past couple years, including successful IPOs for Ophthotech ($OPHT), NanoString ($NSTG) and Globus Medical ($GMED), as well as high-dollar buyouts for Pearl Therapeutics and Tyrx. The company's current portfolio includes oncology innovator Cleave Biosciences, cardiovascular drug developer Catabasis Pharmaceuticals and a stake in Imbruvica (ibrutinib), Johnson & Johnson ($JNJ) and Pharmacyclics' ($PCYC) potential blockbuster.

And Clarus is hardly the only VC mainstay gearing up for the next generation of promising life sciences companies. Early-stage backer 5AM Ventures revealed a $250 million second fund in December, joining Frazier Healthcare, which closed a $377 million purse in October, and VC giant OrbiMed, which launched a $735 million fund a month later. Big-namers NovaQuest, Third Rock and Atlas also debuted funds last year, totaling more than $1 billion.

- here's the filing