Enzyme Maker Alcresta Nabs $10 Million Series A
4/17/2012 7:40:39 AM
NEWTON, Mass., Apr 17, 2012 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- --Founded with New Synergistic Business Model by Proven Team and Top-Tier VCs
Alcresta(TM), a company developing innovative enzyme-based nutritional products for infants, adults and patients battling acute or chronic conditions, today announced a $10 million Series A venture capital financing. Proceeds from the financing will support Alcresta in leveraging its existing proprietary platform to discover and develop a broad range of enzyme-based nutritional products and medical devices designed to improve clinical outcomes, enhance quality of life and reduce health care costs.
Alcresta's Series A venture capital financing was led by top-tier venture investors Bessemer Venture Partners, Frazier Healthcare and Third Rock Ventures, and is synergistic with the recent launch and $15 million Series A financing of Allena Pharmaceuticals. The investment introduces a new biotech business model that enables the two wholly independent companies to maintain separate and distinct product pipelines while sharing resources and leveraging the operational experience and non-systemic protein delivery expertise of the combined management team.
"The demand for innovative science-based nutritional products is growing rapidly as doctors and consumers recognize the critical role that better nutrition can play in improving a person's health over a lifetime," said Alexey Margolin, Ph.D., founder, president and chief executive officer of Alcresta. "Despite recent advances in supplemented nutritional products, some individuals have specialized needs that cannot be met by food alone. In these situations the use of enzymes is critically important. The clear development and regulatory path for nutritional products, combined with our expertise in pharmaceutical development, uniquely position Alcresta to quickly reach the market with a new class of enzyme-based products."
Alcresta's lead development program is aimed at meeting this need with enzyme-based nutritional products and medical devices focused on improving the digestion and absorption of long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids, or LCPUFAs. These LCPUFAs, which include omega-3 (docosahexaenoic acid or DHA) and omega-6 (arachidonic acid or AA), are known as "good fats." LCPUFAs are important nutrients that are required for normal growth, to support immunity, and to improve cardiovascular and brain health. Nearly all of today's supplemented infant formulas and adult nutritional drinks have been enhanced to include the triglyceride form of DHA and AA. However, DHA and AA in the triglyceride form cannot be digested and absorbed properly by many infants, patients with acute or chronic diseases, or older adults because they lack sufficient endogenous enzymes or have impaired gastrointestinal function.
"At Alcresta we have focused on addressing this unmet need for improved patient nutrition and advancing a rapidly growing $33 billion global market," said Robert Gallotto, founder and chief operating officer of Alcresta. "Since we started operations, we have created an extensive intellectual property portfolio, begun to optimize production capabilities, developed exciting scientific data and created a broad portfolio of point-of-care nutritional products that we believe will make a difference in the lives of people who require specialized nutrition."
The Alcresta management team is joined by an experienced board of directors, including Stephen Kraus, partner, Bessemer Venture Partners; James Topper, M.D., Ph.D., general partner, Frazier Healthcare; and Robert Tepper, M.D., partner, Third Rock Ventures. Alcresta has also assembled a product advisory board of leading researchers and proven industry veterans with deep expertise in all aspects of nutritional product and device development. The product advisory board includes Kurt Dasse, Ph.D., former chief executive officer, Levitronix; Steven D. Freedman, M.D., Ph.D., professor of medicine, Harvard Medical School and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center; Camilia R. Martin, M.D., M.S., assistant professor of medicine, Harvard Medical School and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center; John O'Connell, Ph.D., former vice president and chief scientific officer, Wyeth/Pfizer Nutrition; and John Wallingford, Ph.D., former vice president, government and regulatory affairs, Wyeth/Pfizer Nutrition.
"The Alcresta team is uniquely positioned to drive the development of a new class of nutritional enzyme-based products that will bridge foods and pharmaceuticals to support conventional medical care," said James Topper, M.D., Ph.D., general partner at Frazier Healthcare. "We also believe this unique approach for funding and managing companies can optimize our investment strategy and create value-driven products that can improve patient quality of life."
About Long-Chain Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids (LCPUFAs): Omega-3 and Omega-6
Long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids, or LCPUFAs, include omega-3 (docosahexaenoic acid or DHA and eicosapentaenoic acid or EPA) and omega-6 (arachidonic acid or AA) and are often referred to as essential or "good fats" because they are not made in the body, but are required from a person's diet for normal growth, to support immunity, and to improve cardiovascular and brain health.
DHA is the primary structural fat in the brain and retina of the eye and is also a key component of the heart. Numerous studies have shown that DHA and EPA omega-3 are critically important for infant brain, eye and nervous system development, especially in the third trimester of pregnancy, and that these fatty acids support long-term heart health and immune system strength. In adults, DHA and EPA have demonstrated extensive health benefits, including the improvement of cognitive function, decreased inflammation and the prevention of heart disease. AA omega-6 is also important for proper brain development in infants and for a lifetime of neurological health.
Nearly all of today's supplemented infant formulas and adult nutritional drinks have been enhanced to include the triglyceride form of DHA and AA. In this form, DHA and AA cannot be digested into fatty acids and absorbed properly by many infants, patients with acute or chronic diseases or older adults because they lack sufficient endogenous enzymes or have impaired gastrointestinal function.
Alcresta is developing and commercializing innovative enzyme-based nutritional products that improve patient health and manage disease for infants, adults and patients battling acute or chronic conditions. The demand for high-value nutritional products is increasing, driving the growth of a $33 billion global market. While there have been important recent advances in supplemented nutritional products, there remains a significant need for enzyme-based nutritional products that support healthier living and complement conventional medical care. Leveraging its existing proprietary platform of nutritional products and medical devices, Alcresta has developed a lead product designed to improve the delivery, digestion and absorption of long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (including omega-3 and omega-6) to support pediatric growth and development, help strengthen the immune system, accelerate the recovery of patients battling acute or chronic conditions and enhance active adult nutrition. The company's proprietary platform is supported by the Alcresta team's extensive experience in pharmaceutical and nutritional product development. Based in Newton, Mass., the company is backed by top-tier venture investors Bessemer Venture Partners, Frazier Healthcare and Third Rock Ventures. For more information, please visit www.alcresta.com .
Sheryl Seapy, 949-608-0841