CANTERBURY, England, Nov 05, 2012 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- Recently founded Ziarco, a clinical-stage biotechnology company focused on the development of first-in-class therapeutics targeting inflammatory and allergic diseases, announced today the closing of an initial $6 million (GBP3.75 million) tranche of Series A financing totalling $27 million (GBP16.8 million). The round was led by Biotechnology Value Fund L.P, with participation by Pfizer Venture Investments.
Concurrent with the financing, Ziarco has entered into an agreement with Pfizer Inc. for the exclusive worldwide rights to commercialize a portfolio of clinical, preclinical and research anti-inflammatory and anti-allergic assets. In return, Pfizer will receive equity as well as certain product-based milestone and royalty payments. Ziarco will use the proceeds of the financing to continue development of these assets and advance proprietary research.
"Ziarco was founded to address the significant need that still exists for new, more effective ways to treat disorders underpinned by inflammatory and allergic pathobiology. Each programme in development at Ziarco has the potential to be a first-in-class therapeutic and because they target critical points within inflammatory and allergic pathways they offer treatment options for diverse and difficult to manage diseases," noted Dr Mike Yeadon, CEO of Ziarco. "Not only are we very fortunate at such an early stage in the company's development to have licensed significant assets from Pfizer and secured funding from Biotechnology Venture Fund and Pfizer Venture Investments to progress development of these innovative therapeutic agents, but we have in place a highly experienced team which has deep knowledge of these programmes and has the passion and expertise to deliver."
In addition to Dr Yeadon, formerly Vice President and Chief Scientific Officer of Pfizer's Allergy and Respiratory Research Unit, Ziarco has been co-founded by three former Pfizer colleagues: Dr Steve Liu, Vice President and Chief Scientific Officer; Dr Lynn Purkins, Vice President and Head Clinical Development; and Dr Arif Shivji, Vice President and Head Development Operations and Business Development.
"Scientists have discovered that many inflammatory and allergic diseases share common biological pathways and pathology. Ziarco has insights which account for the efficacy limitations of existing medicines. By leveraging this knowledge, we can develop innovative and more efficacious therapeutics that target specific points in these pathways for use in multiple inflammatory indications," explained Dr Liu. "Our most advanced clinical programme is a histamine H4 receptor (H4R) antagonist, ZPL-3893787, which could potentially be used to treat several major diseases, including asthma, allergic rhinitis, pain and a variety of inflammatory skin conditions. This is supported by several other products in our pipeline, including a topical cPLA2 inhibitor which is the most advanced in development worldwide."
Ziarco Product Pipeline
Oral histamine H4 receptor (H4R) antagonist programme
Ziarco's lead candidate, ZPL-3893787, is a potent and selective oral H4R antagonist. Phase 1 single ascending dose (SAD) and 14 day multiple ascending dose (MAD) studies in healthy volunteers have been completed. ZPL-3893787 has an excellent safety and pharmacokinetic profile, indicative of once daily dosing at low dose. Importantly these studies have also demonstrated complete inhibition of an H4R blood biomarker, which enables confident dose selection for future Proof of Concept studies. Ziarco also has a number of additional H4R antagonists in the discovery phase being developed for both human and animal health uses.
Topical cytosolic phosholipase A2 (cPLA2) inhibitor programme
ZPL-5212372 has completed a Phase 1 single ascending dose (SAD) study via the inhaled route in healthy volunteers and was found to be safe and well tolerated up to high doses. Systemic free drug concentration was very low, as is expected of a topically-delivered compound and significantly below levels required for pharmacological effect. ZPL-5212372 has the ideal profile of a safe and effective treatment for a range of inflammatory diseases affecting topical surfaces, including the lung, nose, eye and skin.
Oral histamine H3 receptor antagonist programme
Ziarco's histamine H3 receptor (H3R) antagonist ZPL-868087, a compound being developed for the treatment of allergic rhinitis, has been designed to be orally available yet peripherally restricted so to minimise CNS exposure. This should enable higher doses to be administered to achieve greater systemic drug levels for clinical efficacy, whilst limiting CNS exposure. ZPL-868087 has completed 14-day regulatory toxicology studies in two species and is ready to enter Phase 1 clinical studies. Ziarco also has additional CNS-sparing H3R antagonists in the discovery phase.
Topical spleen tyrosine kinase (SYK) inhibitor programme
Ziarco's discovery SYK programme has identified a number of attractive chemical series. Ziarco will optimise these molecules for topical delivery.
Board of Directors
Ziarco also formalized its Board of Directors. In addition to Dr Mike Yeadon and Dr Steve Liu from the company, the Board will consist of Mark Lampert, Matthew Perry and Joseph Sum all of whom are from BVF Partners.
Ziarco is a clinical-stage biotechnology company developing innovative therapeutics targeting inflammatory and allergic diseases. The company's product pipeline includes ZPL-3893787, an H4 receptor antagonist that has completed a Phase 1 multiple ascending dose study. A second clinical-stage, programme targets inflammatory disorders by inhibiting cytosolic phosholipase A2 (cPLA2). The pipeline is completed by a histamine H3 receptor antagonist programme possessing CNS-sparing properties is in advanced preclinical development and an early-stage spleen tyrosine kinase (SYK) inhibitor programme suitable for topical administration. Investors in Ziarco include Biotechnology Value Fund L.P. and Pfizer Venture Investments. Ziarco is based in Canterbury, UK.
Further information can be found at www.ziarcopharma.com