Ex-Pfizer Employee's Startup Levicept Reels In $16.1 Million

Published: Oct 09, 2014

Ex-Pfizer Employee's Startup Levicept Reels In $16.1 Million

October 8, 2014

By Riley McDermid, BioSpace.com Breaking News Staff

A former Pfizer Inc. employee who bought the rights to a protein he’d been researching when the biopharma giant shuttered their Sandwich, England plant in 2011 has now closed a $16.1 million Series A funding round from venture capitalists to further more research.

The company founded by Simon Westbrook, Levicept, announced Wednesday that Gilde Healthcare Partners, Advent Venture Partners and Index Ventures have taken part in the £10 million financing.

Levicept added that it has received an additional $3.9 million in a grant from government-sponsored startup incubator Innovate U.K.

The fresh funding will be used by Levicept to push the company's product LEVI-04 from preclinical research into a proof-of-concept, first-in-human study. The p75 neurotrophin receptor fusion protein (p75NTR-Fc) is a prime candidate for the treatment of osteoarthritis and chronic pain.

Westbrook began researching the protein while at Pfizer and bought the asset when the Sandwich plant closed.

"The ongoing support from our existing investor and new involvement from investors with deep experience in the life sciences is testament to the exciting preclinical data already obtained with p75NTR-Fc," said Westbrook in a statement. "LEVI-04 has shown the potential to provide a truly differentiated treatment for patients with osteoarthritis in a clinically precedented pathway."

Gilde has had a busy fall so far: In September it led a €12.2 million round for Dutch biotech AM-Pharma, while its ProQR Therapeutics debuted its $272.5 million IPO on the NASDAQ in September.

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