BOZEMAN, Mont., March 18 /PRNewswire/ -- LigoCyte Pharmaceuticals, Inc., a vaccine company in Bozeman, Montana, announced that the company has successfully finalized an agreement for a $28 million venture capital financing round to further clinical development of its two lead vaccines against norovirus and influenza.
The private equity investment is being led by Forward Ventures, JAFCO, and Novartis Venture Fund with significant participation from Fidelity Biosciences and MedImmune Ventures. Additional investors include Athenian Venture Partners and MC Life Sciences Ventures (Mitsubishi International Corporation). Seaview Securities serves as the placement agent for the transaction.
LigoCyte, which develops products based on its virus-like particle (VLP) and monoclonal antibody technologies, has focused efforts on vaccines for important gastrointestinal and respiratory markets. Recent advances by the company of its VLP vaccines for norovirus and influenza propelled the current investment. In particular, the company is currently completing a Phase I clinical study of the norovirus vaccine and plans to commence a live-virus challenge study in human volunteers.
Norovirus is the leading cause of infectious gastroenteritis in the United States and other developed countries. Norovirus outbreaks are becoming increasingly recognized as an important contributor to morbidity and mortality in vulnerable populations, particularly in pediatric and geriatric subjects. Recent progress in detection and surveillance has increased awareness of norovirus in the health care community, and epidemic outbreaks in hospitals, nursing homes and schools highlight the significance of the medical need for a safe and effective vaccine.
In addition to the norovirus vaccine program, LigoCyte has developed an influenza VLP vaccine that has demonstrated significant cross-protection against lethal influenza challenge in the industry standard model of vaccine performance. The company is looking forward to aggressively moving this vaccine candidate into human clinical testing.
"We are very pleased with the level of interest that LigoCyte has generated in the investor community," said Donald Beeman, LigoCyte's Chief Executive Officer. "We are especially pleased with the mix of institutional and strategic investors in this Series C round of financing. These resources will fund LigoCyte through critical proof of principle of our later-stage development candidates."
The new Chairman of the Board, Ivor Royston, M.D., Founding Managing Member of Forward Ventures, stated: "We are very excited about investing in LigoCyte as a clinical stage company because of the potential of protecting large populations against viral infections that cause significant morbidity and mortality throughout the world. LigoCyte addresses a large unmet need in today's vaccine space. If further work bears out, the LigoCyte VLP platform may become the method of choice to produce the next generation of efficacious vaccines for both seasonal influenza and avian influenza."
Prior support of LigoCyte has come from many different individuals and organizations. Robert Bargatze, the company's Chief Scientific Officer and one of its founders commented, "Montana is fortunate to have a growing venture capital and investor network, such as Glacier Venture Fund and the Frontier Angel Fund that can contribute to the growth of small companies. The encouragement and support from our elected officials has also made a significant difference in the company's success. It is our goal to be one of many successful biotech companies in Montana. This investment provides an example of the viability of the entrepreneurial spirit in Montana and represents the largest single private equity investment ever made in a Montana biotech company."
For more information on LigoCyte, please visit http://www.ligocyte.com.
CONTACT: Media, Karen Sipes, Ph.D., Director, Marketing & Communications
of LigoCyte Pharmaceuticals, Inc., +1-406-556-9228,
Web site: http://www.ligocyte.com/