Ziarco Bags $33.1 Million

Published: Nov 10, 2014

Ziarco Bags $33.1 Million

November 10, 2014

By Riley McDermid, BioSpace.com Breaking News Staff

British biotech startup Ziarco Group Ltd has finished a $33.1 million Series B financing round with investors New Enterprise Associates, Inc. (NEA), Lundbeckfond Ventures, Amgen Ventures, BVF Partners L.P. and Pfizer Venture Investments, the company said Monday.

Ziarco focuses on creating drugs and therapies to treat inflammatory skin diseases. As part of the deal, Ed Mathers, partner, and Johan Kördel, senior partner at Lundbeckfond Ventures, will join Ziarco’s board.

The company said it will use the funding to roll out trials that will hopefully provide proof-of-concept data in patients for its two main drug candidates: ZPL-389, an oral histamine H4 receptor antagonist for the treatment of atopic dermatitis, and ZPL-521, a topical cytosolic phospholipase A2 (cPLA2) inhibitor for psoriasis.

"We are pleased to have completed this Series B financing and view the participation of new and existing investors as validation of our high-quality clinical programs in underserved dermatological diseases, as well as our seasoned management team," said Mike Yeadon, president and chief executive officer of Ziarco. "The proceeds will enable us…to make progress in addressing the substantial unmet medical needs and dissatisfaction with the current care options for patients living with atopic dermatitis and psoriasis.”

ZPL-389 is one of only two oral H4 antagonists in active clinical development. It has completed Phase 1 single ascending dose and 14-day multiple ascending dose studies of ZPL-389 in healthy volunteers. So far, it has been safe in trials and Ziarco said it has the potential for once-daily dosing at a low dose, and “complete inhibition of a relevant blood biomarker to confirm H4 specific drug activity.”

“In addition to the strong evidence indicating H4 receptors are important in pruritus, the emerging link of the H4 mechanism to the Th17 pathway suggests ZPL-389 may have clinical utility in multiple chronic, inflammatory conditions,” the company said in a statement.

The firm’s other leading drug, ZPL-521, is a topical cytosolic phospholipase A2 (cPLA2) inhibitor. ZPL-521 has undergone a successful Phase 1 single ascending dose study, where healthy volunteers inhaled the drug and found that it is safe and well-tolerated up to high doses.

"Ziarco's lead compounds are attractive not only because they represent a novel approach to treating two highly prevalent diseases, but also because they have already been validated with significant preclinical and early clinical studies," said venture capitalist Kördel.

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