01 Feb Mithridion raises $1.6M through angel networks
Madison, Wis. — Mithridion, the University of Wisconsin-Madison spinoff developing a drug for people with Alzheimer’s disease, has closed its first round of financing with $1.6 million, of which it has received the first portion, that will go toward buying lab equipment, hiring scientists and developing drug candidates.
Trevor Twose, Mithridion’s CEO, said the money would sustain the firm for about 18 months, and that he may hire six people by the end of the year. Mithridion already has the lab space it needs, having won a year’s rent at the University Research Park in the Governor’s Business Plan Contest last year, but still needs to equip and staff it.
The investment came from Rosetta Partners in Lake Forest, Illinois, and Wisconsin Investment Partners in Madison. They rounded up individual investors for a total dollar figure that’s on the high end for Wisconsin angel deals without venture capital involvement.
“The company would find it extremely difficult to reach those individual investors,” Twose said.
Rosetta principal Paul Evans said he connected with Twose through Richard Burgess, a professor at UW-Madison and co-founder of Madison biotech firm ConjuGon. ConjuGon was Rosetta’s first investment in Wisconsin.
The next round of funding Mithridion needs will probably be around $4 million and come from venture capitalists, Twose said. And there’s plenty more to come after that.
“It’s very strong science in a huge market,” said Dick Leazer, who runs Wisconsin Investment Partners – a $2.8 billion market with the potential to grow to $10 billion, by Twose’s figures.
Leazer said he expects to be invested in the company for five to seven years, a fairly typical period. Going all the way through FDA trials would require $50 million to $100 million, he said, but it’s more likely that if its early trials are successful Mithridion will partner or sell to a large pharmaceutical company in stage two or three trials. By that time, its technology will be reasonably proven – enough, at least, for a large pharma to take on the final testing and marketing.
Mithridion’s product is based on research by Jeff Johnson, a UW-Madison professor whose discovery of the potential Alzheimer’s treatment got him a mention in governor Jim Doyle’s 2004 State of the State speech, and Thor Stein, a UW-Madison researcher. But Johnson still works full time at the university, rather than trying to run a company based on his research as some professors do. “I like the science too much,” he said.
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