What You Need to Know About Adrenergics

What You Need to Know About Adrenergics
December 2, 2015
By Mark Terry, BioSpace.com Breaking News Staff

Adrenergics focuses on developing novel therapeutics to treat dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) in patients who do not respond to existing therapies. DCM is a disease of the muscle of the heart which usually starts in the chamber of the heart responsible for pumping activity, the left ventricle. Thinning of the left ventricle causes it to not pump blood effectively, resulting in inefficient blood supply throughout the body.

Launched as a collaboration between Avalon Ventures and GlaxoSmithKline , Adrenergics is located at COI Pharmaceuticals in San Diego, a community of innovation founded by Avalon to provide operational support, a fully equipped research-and-development facility and an experienced leadership team.

“To our knowledge,” said company chief executive officer Jay Lichter in an exclusive interview with BioSpace , “nobody else is working in this area. That’s the theme to a lot of Avalon’s projects. We don’t want to be a fast follower. We think that it’s hard enough to make a drug and be third or fourth on the market. You’re just not going to get the pricing or the market penetration. So we take the risk of being the first in an indication, or first in a therapeutic area, or first on a target and be the market leader when the product becomes available.”

Company Leadership
Jay Lichter—president and chief executive officer of COI Pharmaceuticals, and as such, is the chief executive officer of the biotech companies under its umbrella. He is also the managing director of Avalon Ventures, and has led investments in Carolus, Otonomy , Sova and Zacharon Pharmaceuticals. He is the inventor on over 260 patent and patent applications for six Avalon portfolio companies, including 78 issued patents. Lichter has been involved in licensing or merger and acquisition deals valued in excess of $1 billion.

David Campbell—chief scientific officer. He is the chief scientific officer, small molecules, of COI Pharmaceuticals. He has over 15 years of industry experience in drug discovery and development. His focus has been on oncology and central nervous system applications of proprietary PAK inhibitors, as well as anti-bacterial drugs, kinase inhibitors, obesity, osteoporosis and diabetes. Campbell is also an entrepreneur in residence at Avalon Ventures.

Justin Chapman—director of biology. Chapman has more than 20 years of experience in medical research and drug discovery, including 12 years in large pharma. He also serves as associate director, biology for COI Pharmaceuticals and Sova Pharmaceuticals, another Avalon Ventures portfolio company.

Buxin Chen —scientist. Prior to joining COI, Chen was assistant project scientist at the University of California, San Diego, where she worked to identify adaptor proteins mediating protease-activated Receptor-1 (PAR1, a thrombin GPCR) endocytosis and degradation.

Carmine Stengone—chief business officer, and senior vice president of business development for COI Pharmaceuticals. He has more than 14 years of experience in biopharma, including roles in finance, strategic planning, corporate development, licensing, alliance management and venture funding.

Chris Smith—director of medicinal chemistry at Adrenergics and at COI Pharmaceuticals. Prior to joining COI and Adenergics, Smith was the director of immunology chemistry for Takeda San Diego. Prior to that he was a principal research scientist with Eli Lilly .

Tighe Reardon—chief financial officer. Also the chief financial officer of COI Pharmaceuticals, Reardon has over 15 years of senior finance and technical tax experience, ranging from startups to large public companies. Prior to joining COI, and as a result, Adenergics, Reardon was the senior vice president of tax and treasury at DJO Global, a multinational medical device company owned by Blackstone (BX).

Company Financing
Adrenergics was launched as one of several collaborations between Avalon Ventures and GSK. The company received $10 million in a Series A financing round and research and development support from Avalon and GSK. All of the companies involved in the Avalon-GSK partnership are essentially exclusive, with an eventual acquisition by GlaxoSmithKline as the goal.

“They’re basically cut out of the same strategic cloth,” Lichter told BioSpace. “They all have similar paths forward and similar economics, focusing on a single target and single asset. Our objective is to make a clinical candidate and a robust series of backups that ultimately GSK will put into their portfolio.”

At this time, Adrenergics is focused on identifying that small molecule to interact with the appropriate receptor for the autoantibodies known to be prevalent in DCM. A very new company, its efforts are very much in the preclinical stage.

What to Look For
The goal, as mentioned above, is to identify a compound or compounds that may be effective in treating DCM. At which point, with any luck, the company will be able to apply for an investigational new drug (IND), be acquired by GSK, and the compound will move into clinical development.

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