18 Jan Biotech with Madison ties raises $21M in capital
Madison, Wis. – When Cytochroma, a Canadian firm seeking to commercialize new vitamin D products, acquired the Madison-based Proventiv Therapeutics last year, executives indicated that the combined company was looking for an additional $25 million in venture capital from Canadian and American investors.
This week, they raised $21 million, mostly from two Canadian funds.
The company, which says it plans to open a facility in Madison in 2007, received the $21 million from VenGrowth Advanced Life Sciences Fund and GeneChem Technologies Venture Fund of Canada, and Novo A/S of Denmark.
The venture funding will be used to start human clinical trials on drug compounds for the chronic kidney disease (CKD) market, primarily addressing problems caused by vitamin D deficiency in kidney patients.
“This new financing will allow Cytochroma to achieve key milestones in the advancement of our product portfolio into the clinic,” Charles Bishop, president and CEO of Cytochroma, said in a release. “We are excited about our new vitamin D products, and are aggressively moving our clinical plan forward in 2007.”
Luc Marengère, managing general partner at VenGrowth, said Cytochroma has demonstrated the ability to execute clinical development programs.
Cytochroma, based in suburban Toronto, includes in its management team three former executives of Proventiv, which was founded in Sept. 2005 by former employees of Bone Care International.
Earlier in 2005, Bone Care had been acquired by Genzyme Corp., the Boston-based life science company.
The three former employees are Bishop, who once served as CEO of Bone Care; Eric Messner, vice president of commercial operations for Cytochroma; and Keith H. Crawford, vice president of strategic planning for Cytochroma.
Genzyme has filed a patent infringement suit against the three in United States District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin, claiming that the former Bone Care employees, while with Proventiv, began to develop Bone Care International’s trade secrets into Proventiv’s new products.
The employees, who claim that Genzyme filed the suit to gain more information about the products they were developing, have denied the allegations. A jury trial is scheduled to begin in March.
In addition to expanding its vitamin D product portfolio, the acquisition of Proventiv, which was developing vitamin D therapies, was to have established an American base of operations for Cytochroma, but it has yet to follow through on plans to open a Madison office.
Cytochroma has, however, entered into a license and supply agreement with the Madison-based aOvaTechnologies, more commonly known as aOvaTech, to co-develop and market products to treat patients with chronic kidney disease.
Before the latest round of funding, Cytochroma had raised $39 million in private capital from Canadian sources.
The clinical trials could bring Cytochroma closer to the point of commercializing therapeutic tools for the CKD market. According to the National Kidney Foundation, more than nine million North American patients suffer from moderate to severe CKD. Many develop vitamin D deficiency and a condition known as secondary hyperparathyroidism. If untreated, the condition can cause debilitating bone diseases.
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