Startup Patara raises $26M for a next-gen cough medicine

San Diego upstart Patara Pharma closed a $26 million Series A to support its work on a novel treatment for chronic coughing, working through a pair of Phase II trials on its lead candidate.

The company, founded by veterans of Elevation Pharmaceuticals, is developing an immune-modulating drug it believes can tamp down cough and make a difference in orphan diseases. Called PA101B, Patara's treatment works by boosting the protein GPR35 to stabilize the body's mast cells, which play a role in allergic reactions. Doing so could relieve chronic coughing, Patara believes, and treat the orphan disease indolent systemic mastocytosis, an acute allergic disorder.

The company's $26 million A round comes paired with an agreement with Silicon Valley Bank through which Patara can borrow up to $7 million. With the new cash, the company is progressing through a Phase II proof-of-concept study testing how well PA101B can relieve cases of chronic coughing resistant to standard therapy. Patara is also working through a second Phase II trial testing its drug on indolent systemic mastocytosis, first pitting it against placebo and then rolling into an open-label study comparing PA101B with Nalcrom, the only drug approved for mastocytosis, the company said.

In chronic cough, Patara is targeting the patients for whom widely available drugs are not enough, a group that often includes people with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, lung cancer and severe asthma, the company said. As for systemic mastocytosis, the disease affects about 30,000 people in the U.S. and can be debilitating, leading to hospitalization and putting patients at serious risk for anaphylaxis, Patara said.

Founded in 2013, Patara is led by executives from the COPD-focused Elevation, acquired by Sunovion in a 2012 deal worth up to $430 million.

- read the statement