Genoa Pharmaceuticals has completed $62 million in a Series A financing round that secures funds for a Phase 2 clinical trial to evaluate Aerodone (inhaled pirfenidone) in treating diopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF).
The company also announced the newest additions to its board of directors, namely venture capitalists Ketan Patel, Naveed Siddiqi, Tiba Aynechi, Niall O’Donnell and Heather Preston. Dr. Jonathan Leff, who led the development of Esbriet (oral pirfenidone) and its approval process, was named an independent director.
In addition, Dr. A. Bruce Montgomery has been named CEO and will lead clinical development out of Genoa’s Seattle headquarters. Founder and inventor Mark Surber, who organized the financing, was named chief scientific officer. Surber will head the San Diego office focusing on Aerodone non-clinical support as well as pipeline research and development.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Esbriet in 2014 to treat IPF. Even though pirfenidone slow IPF progression, it is a low-potency drug that requires a very large oral dose to achieve effective results, and causes many undesired side effects. To avoid those limitations, Genoa developed Aerodone as an inhaled formulation of Esbriet, which increases the amount of pirfenidone that enters the lungs without the side effects.
“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 2 clinical trials,” Surber said in a press release. “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.”
Added Montgomery: “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 (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), and antibiotics in cystic fibrosis. We hope to accomplish the same benefits with pirfenidone.”
The Series A round was led by F. Prime Capital Partners and Edmond de Rothschild Investment Partners, with participation by Novo AS, RiverVest Venture Partners and TPG Biotech.