aTyr Pharma $76 Million Series E Gets IPO Rumors Flying

aTyr Pharma $76 Million Series E Gets IPO Rumors Flying
April 1, 2015
By Mark Terry, Breaking News Staff

San Diego-based aTyr Pharma Inc. announced yesterday that it had successfully completed a Series E financing round totaling $76 million. The round was led by Sofinnova Ventures and an undisclosed large institutional investor. Other new investors included funds and accounts advised by T. Rowe Price Associates, Inc., Federated Investors, Inc., Deerfield, Rock Springs Capital Management, EcoR1 Capital and others.

In addition, the company added Srinivas Akkaraju, a general partner at Sofinnova Ventures, to the company’s board of directors. Akkaraju is or has been active on numerous other boards, including Eyetech Pharmaceuticals, Intercept Pharmaceuticals , Seattle Genetics, Inc. and others.

aTyr focuses on physiocrines which are extracellular signaling molecules. They apparently play a role in modulating physiological changes and in some cases, their absence is linked to human genetic diseases.

“The proceeds from this financing, led by top-tier biotechnology institutional investors, will help support the development of our lead clinical candidate Resolaris and its Phase Ib/II trial for patients with facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy (FSHD), as well as expansion to additional indications,” said John Mendlein, company chief executive and executive chairman in a statement.

In the 10 years since aTyr was founded, it has raised at least $184 milllion. Analysts are speculating that with all this cash coming in, the company may be leading up to an initial public offering (IPO).

The company isn’t saying much more than that the funds will mostly go toward its Resolaris program, which is currently in Phase Ib/II trial.

On Feb. 18, 2015, aTyr announced that the European Commission (EC) had granted Resolaris orphan drug designation for the treatment of facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy. The drug is a first-in-class intravenous protein therapeutic for rare myopathies that have an immune component.

FSHD is a neuromuscular disease that results in the progressive loss of skeletal muscle. In this specific type of muscular dystrophy, it usually affects across the facial, back and upper arm muscles. Often also effected are the legs and hip girdle. The muscle weakness is often asymmetrical, affecting only one side of the body.

“Our mission is to develop medicines that will make a meaningful difference to patients impacted by debilitating rare diseases,” said Mendlein in a statement. “We are very pleased that the EMA has recognized the potential of Resolaris for patients suffering from FSHD. The Agency’s decision is an important advancement for our promising Physiocrine-based medicines, and marks a key milestone in our strategy to deliver Resolaris to address the unmet needs of patients with this rare disease.”

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