Alcresta has fueled up with venture dollars en route to commercialization of its biotech-inspired nutritional products with a $10 million Series A round from previous backers Bessemer Venture Partners, Frazier Healthcare and Third Rock Ventures.
The Newton, MA-based startup has been developing an enzyme-based product that breaks down "good fats" for cancer patients and others who lack the ability to digest the important nutrients. Last year the company scored an initial $10 million round of financing. It is within sight of a commercial launch of its first product in 2014.
"We've accomplished quite a bit in the last 18 months or so," said Robert Gallotto, Alcresta's co-founder and president. "But the next 18 months will get us to a very good path, and to do all of that with $20 million… is very different from your traditional pharmaceutical or biotech opportunity."
Both Gallotto and Alcresta CEO Alexey Margolin have so far worked on at least four companies. Right now, they are also running a developer of oral protein drugs called Allena. In 2009 they sold their previous startup Alnara to Eli Lilly ($LLY), which failed in a bid to gain FDA approval of Alnara's lead therapy. Margolin and Gallotto had licensed the drug from their former employer Altus before that biotech group went out of business.
The company is developing one product that places the enzymes on a device that is stirred into a nutritional drink to predigest healthy fats such as long-chain fatty acids before the beverage is served to the patient. Another version packs the enzymes in cartridges for systems that deliver nutrients from feeding tubes.
The patients could range from premature infants whose pancreases fail to make enough fat-digesting enzymes to elderly people with declining digestive functions. There are also a number of patients with serious diseases such as pancreatic cancer and cystic fibrosis who could benefit from nutritional boosts.
Alcresta aims to use its existing capital to complete clinical studies of its products and gain market OKs from the FDA. Margolin declined to describe the planned regulatory pathways, but they are different than those for pharmaceuticals.
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