Arginetix Inc., a Baltimore-based developer of small molecule inhibitors of arginase, has raised $2.3 million in first-round funding. Quaker BioVentures and MedImmune Ventures co-led the round, and were joined by Red Abbey Venture Partners, Maryland Health Care Product Development Corp. and Acidophil LLC.
Arginetix, Inc., a biopharmaceutical company dedicated to developing and commercializing novel therapeutic small molecule inhibitors of arginase, announced today that it has completed a $2.3 million initial financing. The financing was co-led by Quaker BioVentures and MedImmune Ventures. Other investors included Red Abbey Venture Partners, Maryland Health Care Product Development Corporation and Acidophil LLC. The company’s scientific foundation is based on discoveries of the scientific co-founders, David Christianson, Ph.D. at the University of Pennsylvania and Dan Berkowitz M.D. at the Johns Hopkins University.
Gary Lessing, Arginetix’s President and CEO, said: “We are thrilled by the high quality of investors participating in this financing. We believe arginase inhibition is an exciting area of research with breakthrough potential in areas of high unmet medical need.” Mr. Lessing is the former Executive Vice President and CFO for Avalon Pharmaceuticals and a former Managing Director in the Health Care Investment Banking Group of Deutsche Bank Alex. Brown.
Arginetix was founded in 2007 by Acidophil LLC, Dr. Christianson, Dr. Berkowitz, Mr. Lessing and the University of Pennsylvania. “The successful completion of this financing will enable the company to advance the work of Drs. Christianson and Berkowitz, targeting this physiologic fulcrum of many diseases and potentially develop important novel therapeutics,” said Dr. Goelet (Acidophil), Chairman of the Arginetix Board of Directors. Joining Dr. Goelet on the Board of Directors are Dr. Geeta Vemuri (Quaker BioVentures), Dr. Philippe Walker (VP and Head, AstraZeneca R & D Montreal), Mr. Matt Zuga (Red Abbey Venture Partners), and Mr. Lessing.
Dr. Vemuri added: “Arginetix represents a significant opportunity to convert these important discoveries into valuable medical treatments. We believe that the science underlying the company’s research is robust and represents a strong premise for arginase inhibition.”
The Company also announced that it had a completed a license agreement for related intellectual property with the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Michael J. Cleare, Associate Vice Provost for Research and Executive Director of the Center for Technology Transfer (“CTT”) at the University of Pennsylvania, said “Arginetix successfully combines world-class research programs with experienced management and top-tier investor support. We are highly optimistic of the societal benefit that may be achieved by moving these exciting scientific discoveries from the laboratory to the marketplace”.
Arginetix is a biopharmaceutical company dedicated to developing and commercializing novel therapeutic small molecule inhibitors of arginase. Arginase is an enzyme that competes with endothelial Nitric Oxide Synthase (eNOS) for the use of the common substrate L-arginine. Elevated Arginase limits L-arginine available for eNOS resulting in both a reduction in Nitric Oxide (NO) production (reducing signaling critical for normal function) as well as eNOS “uncoupling” leading to the production of damaging reactive oxygen species (ROS). Further, arginase also leads to the production of ornithine which increases polyamine, stimulating cell division, contributing to hyperplasia and fibrosis. Together the decrease in NO, the increase in ROS and the increase in ornithine are major causes of endothelial dysfunction. Initial indications include Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension (PAH) and Erectile Dysfunction associated with diabetes.
The mission of The University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Technology Transfer (“CTT”) is to transfer inventions and innovative knowledge to outside organizations for the benefit of society, including the licensing of Penn’s intellectual property to new business ventures for product development and commercialization. CTT serves as a bridge between Penn faculty and researchers and the business community through the patenting, marketing and licensing of technologies developed and owned by the University of Pennsylvania. On the web at: www.upenn.edu/ctt