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Elara Pharmaceuticals GmbH Raises E4.6 Million And Names Christof Antz as Chief Business Officer



11/30/2009 8:11:38 AM

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eidelberg, Germany, November 26, 2009 – ELARA Pharmaceuticals GmbH, a biotech company focused on the development of drugs for the treatment of different cancers, announced today the closing of a € 2.6 million Series A financing round, which will trigger an additional € 2 million from the BMBF GOBio and the Biotechnologie Rhein-Neckar (BioRN) Spitzencluster programs, leading to a total funding of € 4.6 million.

Lead investor EMBL Ventures, Heidelberg, was joined by Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau (KfW), Bonn, and Wagnisfinanzierungsgesellschaft für Technologieförderung in Rheinland- Pfalz mbH (WFT), Mainz, a subsidiary of Investitions- und Strukturbank Rheinland-Pfalz (ISB) GmbH.

ELARA Pharmaceuticals also announced the appointment of Dr. Christof Antz, formerly Managing Partner at EMBL Ventures and Chairman of ELARA’s Board, as Chief Business Officer and member of the Executive Management Team.

"Christof has a track record as a biotech entrepreneur and investor and will significantly enhance our capacities in business development. As we develop our lead compounds towards the clinic, partnering with pharma companies and raising additional funds will be essential,” said Dr. Joe Lewis, CEO and co-founder of Elara.

“We are pleased to have attracted this group of experienced biotech investors,” stated Dr. Antz, Chief Business Officer of ELARA Pharmaceuticals. "The proceeds of this round will enable us to advance our lead product candidate through an IND/IMPD application for the treatment of Multiple Myeloma as the first targeted indication. In a short period of time, ELARA has been able to develop its preclinical hypoxia signaling antagonist program to an impressive, best–in-class series of drug candidates with a broad indication spectrum."

In addition, Dr. Gerhard Keilhauer, CEO of Lipid Therapeutics GmbH, Heidelberg, and former Head of the Preclinical Oncology at BASF Pharma/Knoll in Massachusetts, has joined the Board of ELARA. He brings in more than 20 years of preclinical and clinical drug development expertise in the field of oncology. Dr. Sue Foden and Dr. David Owen continue as Board members.

"The principles of hypoxia signaling inhibitors pursued by ELARA for fighting tumors are attractive and novel,” commented Dr. Stefan Herr at EMBL Ventures. “The induction of Hypoxia Inducible Factor (HIF) is a key strategy of cancer cells, which allows them to survive and even further proliferate under hypoxic conditions. We believe that ELARA’s drug candidates, which stop tumor growth by HIF inhibition, offer great potential to overcome the limitations of current treatment options, such as drug resistance and severe side effects. In sum, ELARA is developing a proprietary, high value pipeline of anti-cancer drugs, which will create a compelling value proposition for future pharma partners and investors”.

About ELARA Pharmaceuticals

ELARA Pharmaceuticals was founded in 2006 as a spin-out of the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) in Heidelberg, Germany. The Company focuses on the discovery and development of innovative Hypoxia Inducible Factor (HIF) antagonizing drugs for the treatment of different cancers. The hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF) signaling pathway is central for regulating the transcription of genes in response to decreases of oxygen, or hypoxia. As an example, HIF is promoting the formation of blood vessels, but it also stimulates growth and deregulates apoptotic processes in favor of cell survival. In cancer, HIF is therefore crucial for tumor growth, vascularization, formation of metastases and treatment failure. Elara has already built a portfolio of HIF signaling pathway inhibitors, which in vivo demonstrate a favorable pharmacokinetic profile and low toxicity. The Company’s lead product candidate is a novel chemotype with excellent exposure and potent activity against Multiple Myeloma in various cell and tissue lines. The team of ELARA has developed two additional proprietary backup series with a high potential for additional cancer indications. The most advanced program has reached animal efficacy and tolerability testing. For more information, please visit www.elarapharma.com.

About EMBL Ventures

EMBL Ventures is an early stage investor, currently managing € 26 million on behalf of major institutional investors in Europe. The close relationship with the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) and its technology transfer organization EMBL Enterprise Management Technology Transfer GmbH (EMBLEM) allows EMBL Ventures to finance disruptive first-inclass technologies in an entrepreneurial start-up environment, followed by a partnering transaction with a suitable partner seeking to acquire external product innovation. For more information, please visit www.embl-ventures.com.

About KfW

The KfW-Bankengruppe supports with its investment vehicle KfW Mittelstandsbank founders and medium-sized businesses by classical equity investments and numerous other products to strengthen their capital resources. KfW-Bankengruppe supports investments of German companies nationwide and abroad.

The start-up phases of young technology companies are supported with equity capital from the ERP-Startfonds. The Startfonds is matching private equity capital and is only co-investing with other investors. This increases interest from private investors for entering the market. For more information, please visit www.kfw-mittelstandsbank.de.

About WFT

Wagnisfinanzierungsgesellschaft für Technologieförderung in Rheinland-Pfalz mbH (WFT) is a subsidiary of Investitions- und Strukturbank Rheinland-Pfalz (ISB) GmbH. Using the funds of ISB, WFT participates via equity investments or silent partnerships in the financing of small start-up companies, thus strengthening their capital resources and providing means for a successful company start. The financial means provided by the land Rheinland-Pfalz are co-financed by resources from the operational program „Wachstum durch Innovation“ from the European Fund for Regional Development (EFRE). Please visit www.isb.rlp.de to learn more about pre-conditions, funding volume and procedures of WFT or find appropriate contact agents.

Read at BioSpace.com


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