Lilly backs a $25M round for anti-inflammatory startup Symic

Symic CEO Ken Horne

San Francisco's Symic raised $25 million to fund its work on a pair of anti-inflammatory medicines targeting the extracellular matrix, recruiting Eli Lilly ($LLY) to lead the round as it works through clinical development.

Symic's lead asset is SB-030, a one-time treatment designed to tamp down the vascular inflammation that often follows procedures including bypass surgery and stenting. The drug is designed to repair damage to the extracellular matrix by mimicking the effect of connective tissue proteins called proteoglycans, and Symic is working through a Phase I/II study to test whether it can reduce acute inflammation following angioplasty, expecting data in 2017.

Behind its lead candidate, Symic has preclinical osteoarthritis treatment called SB-061, a drug that relies on similar, extracellular matrix-building mimics to halt the cartilage degradation that marks the disease. In January, the company signed a co-development deal with Danish CRO Nordic Bioscience, trading a stake in SB-061 for clinical services and angling to start first-in-human trials early next year.

Symic's latest funding round, led by Lilly Ventures, brings its total capital raised to $43 million since its 2012 foundation. The biotech's investor syndicate also includes Ally Bridge Group, Mission Bay Capital, Mitsui Global and QB3 Partners. The new funds will also allow Symic to keep its discovery engine rolling with the goal of identifying a third clinical program, CEO Ken Horne said.

Horne joined Symic in 2014 after Aline Aesthetics, a company he founded, sold to Allergan ($AGN) for an undisclosed sum. Joining Horne on Symic's board are Lilly Ventures general partner Armen Shanafelt, Nordic Bioscience Chairman Claus Christiansen, Sutro Biopharma CEO William Newell and former Merck ($MRK) Chief Licensing Officer Barbara Yanni.

- read the statement