Merganser Biotech Inc, which focuses on treating rare blood and iron-related diseases, has secured $28 million in Series A financing. Novartis Venture Fund led the round with participation from Frazier Healthcare, Sutter Hill Ventures, Osage University Partners, BioAdvance and Stateside Developments. In addition to the funding, Markus Goebel of Novartis Venture Fund, James Topper of Frazier Healthcare and Jeffrey Bird of Sutter Hill Ventures have been added to Merganser’s board of directors. Also, Bill Harrington of Osage University Partners has been named as a board observer.
Merganser Biotech Inc. announced today that the company has raised $28 million in a Series A financing round. The round was led by the Novartis Venture Fund joined by Frazier Healthcare Sutter Hill Ventures and Osage University Partners. Seed investors BioAdvance and Stateside Developments also participated in the round. The proceeds from this financing will be used to develop hepcidin mimetic peptides as therapeutics for the treatment of rare hematological and iron overload diseases.
“We are delighted to receive support from a strong syndicate of investors to develop hepcidin mimetics” said Brian MacDonald MB ChB PhD CEO of Merganser Biotech. “The proceeds from this financing will enable us to generate clinical proof of concept in one or more of the many therapeutic applications of this versatile technology.”
“Our investment to support the development of hepcidin mimetic peptides at Merganser is based on outstanding scientific research including compelling efficacy data in multiple preclinical models combined with an experienced and capable drug development team” commented Markus Goebel of the Novartis Venture Fund. “We look forward to working with the company to translate the impressive body of research on hepcidin biology from Merganser’s academic founders into important new medicines.”
In connection with the financing Markus Goebel of the Novartis Venture Fund James Topper of Frazier Healthcare and Jeffrey Bird of Sutter Hill Ventures will join the Merganser Board of Directors. Bill Harrington of Osage University Partners will also join the Board in an observer role.
About Hepcidin Mimetic Peptides
Hepcidin mimetic peptides were discovered by Professors Tomas Ganz and Elizabeta Nemeth at the University of California Los Angeles two of the leading researchers in the field of iron metabolism and hepcidin biology. In their studies hepcidin mimetics were shown to be capable of replicating the biological effects of hepcidin and to be effective in controlling iron overload in animal models. Merganser has worked with Professors Ganz and Nemeth and with Dr Stefano Rivella at Weill Cornell Medical College to discover and evaluate promising hepcidin mimetic peptides. This collaboration has established that administration of hepcidin mimetic peptides produces therapeutic iron restriction that significantly improves both anemia and iron overload in models of beta thalassemia and can also control the accelerated erythropoiesis caused by mutated Jak2 that is the hallmark of polycythemia vera. “We designed the hepcidin mimetic peptides as a potential therapeutic option to address the significant clinical problems associated with low hepcidin level in diseases such as beta thalassemia and hemochromatosis” commented Professor Ganz.
Hepcidin is the master regulator of iron metabolism and controls both the absorption of iron from the diet and the transfer of iron from cellular stores for incorporation into hemoglobin. A low level of hepcidin as observed in diseases such as hemochromatosis beta thalassemia and myelodysplastic syndrome leads to hyperabsorption of dietary iron. Accumulation of dietary iron in these diseases leads to iron overload significantly exacerbated by transfusional iron burden from the treatment of chronic anemia. Toxic iron overload leads to severe cardiac liver and endocrine disease and contributes to the severity of ineffective erythropoiesis in diseases such as beta thalassemia.
About Merganser Biotech
Merganser Biotech was founded by Brian MacDonald and Gene Merutka and is focused on the evaluation of novel hepcidin mimetic peptides for the treatment of beta thalassemia and other rare hematological and iron overload diseases. In 2013 the company obtained an exclusive worldwide license to patent rights for this technology from the Regents of the University of California.