Sanofi, NEA team up in $18M round for rare disease outfit Edimer

Edimer Pharmaceuticals has tapped some deep-pocketed investors for a Series B round of financing to fuel development of a protein therapy for the rare genetic disorder X-linked hypohidrotic ectodermal dysplasia (XLHED). New Enterprise Associates (NEA) led the round, which included new backer Sanofi-Genzyme BioVentures as well as previous investors Third Rock Ventures and VI Partners.

Edimer aims to use the new funds to bankroll a midstage study of its lead candidate EDI200, a recombinant protein intended to restore normal development in newborns with XLHED. The disease impairs development of teeth and hair as well as the ability to produce sweat glands to regulate body temperature, which can trigger potentially fatal hyperthermia.

NEA General Partner David Mott

Cambridge, MA-based Edimer has added NEA General Partner David Mott to its board of directors through the deal, making the startup the former MedImmune CEO's latest bet on a rare disease. This year his firm backed a $16 million accelerator to advance discovery of rare disease therapies. And in early 2012 he spearheaded NEA's investment in Prosensa ($RNA), a 2012 Fierce 15 company, which completed an IPO this year on the strength of its lead drug for Duchenne muscular dystrophy.

"With this financing in place, Edimer is poised to begin testing its novel therapeutic in affected newborns in the near future, and to offer the first real potential progress against this serious genetic disease," Mott said in a statement.

Third Rock led the $22 million Series A round for Edimer, marking one of the venture outfit's many investments in companies focused on rare diseases. The firm scored two of its early exits from the sales of Lotus Tissue Repair to Shire ($SHPG) this year and Alnara to Eli Lilly ($LLY) in 2010. Bluebird bio ($BLUE), another rare diseases outfit, wrapped up a successful IPO in June after Third Rock helped recapitalize the gene therapy company.

It's no surprise to see the Sanofi-Genzyme crew involved in the deal. French drug giant Sanofi ($SNY) bought Cambridge, MA-based Genzyme for more than $20 billion in 2011 to take over the biotech company's global business for therapies against rare genetic diseases. Genzyme was also an investor in bluebird bio. 

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