Seattle's Genoa Pharma Banks $62 Million and Names a New CEO and CSO

Published: May 16, 2017

Seattle's Genoa Pharma Banks $62 Million and Names a New CEO and CSO May 15, 2017
By Mark Terry, BioSpace.com Breaking News Staff

Seattle-based Genoa Pharmaceuticals announced the completion of a Series A financing worth $62 million. The round was led by F-Prime Capital Partners and Edmond de Rothschild Investment Partners. Participants included Novo AS, RiverVest Venture Partners, and TPG Biotech.

Genoa is focused on idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) and other severe pulmonary diseases. Its lead program is Aerodone, which is an inhaled form of pirfenidone, to treat IPF. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has granted Aerodone Orphan Drug status.

IPF is a fatal orphan lung disease. Its symptoms include progressive scarring, reduced exercise capacity and ultimately death from respiratory failure and/or co-morbidities. The only two treatments were approved in 2014, oral pirfenidone (Esbriet) and oral nintedanib (Ofev).

Esbriet is a Roche product that it acquired in 2014 when it bought InterMune for $8.3 billion. Ofev is a Boehringer Ingelheim drug that was approved around the same time as Esbriet.

Genoa believes that there is an advantage in inhaled dosing of the drug, including minimizing adverse side effects. The oral versions require large doses in order to ensure enough of the drug makes it to the lungs.

“In addition to advancing our early-stage pipeline, with this financing and our veteran development team, we have the funds and expertise to test Aerodone for the treatment of IPF through Phase II clinical trials,” said Mark Surber, the company’s founder and investor, and chief scientific officer, in a statement. “Despite the approval of two medicines, IPF remains a fatal disease with substantial unmet need for improved tolerability and effective medical treatments. By the inhaled approach, we are enthusiastic for the opportunity to meet these needs and improve patient lives.”

At the same time as the financing, venture capital investors Ketan Patel, Naveed Siddiqi, Tiba Aynechi, Niall O’Donnell and Heather Preston joined the company’s board of directors. Jonathan Leff was appointed an independent director. Leff was formerly executive vice president of Research and Development at InterMune .

The chief executive officer will be A. Bruce Montgomery, who will lead clinical development out of the company’s Seattle office. Surber, who organized the financing, will head the San Diego office and focus on Aerodone nonclinical support and pipeline research and development.

Montgomery has a history of bringing drugs to market, having been involved in shepherding Gilead ’s Cayston, Roche ’s Pulmozyme and Novartis ’ TOBI. His most recent position was at Cardeas Pharma.

Mark Surber is a serial entrepreneur. Before founding Genoa, he was consulting to pharma companies on multi-disciplinary drug development, including Elevation Pharmaceuticals and Cardeas Pharma. He was the first employee at Aires Pharmaceuticals, which was acquired by Mast Therapeutics in 2014. At Aires, he was project lead and the inventor of Aironite, an inhaled drug to treat pulmonary hypertension and heart failure. He was also the first employee at Mpex Pharmaceuticals, which was acquired by Aptalis Pharma in 2011. There he held multiple positions, including project lead and inventor of Quinsair, an inhaled medicine approved to treat cystic fibrosis (CF).

“Reformulating systemic drugs for targeted inhaled lung delivery has successfully improved the efficacy and decreased systemic adverse effects for corticosteroids and bronchodilators in both asthma and COPD, and antibiotics in cystic fibrosis,” Montgomery said in a statement. “We hope to accomplish the same benefits with pirfenidone.”

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