University of Michigan spinoff Lycera secures access to $11 million in venture capital
University of Michigan biotech spinoff Lycera Corp. can tap into $11 million in venture capital funding that its investors promised to deliver after the firm met certain clinical benchmarks, officials said this morning.
Lycera, which is close to launching clinical trials for treatments aimed at autoimmune diseases, also said that coastal venture capitalist Jeffrey Leiden had been appointed as its chairman. The firm also hired Robin Goldstein as its vice president for preclinical development and program management.
“The company is on track to be in the clinic next year with its first small molecule oral therapy for autoimmune disease,” said Leiden, managing director of Lycera investor Clarus Venture Partners, in a statement. “We are extremely pleased with the progress the team has made over the last year, and we are looking forward to advancing our lead compound into the clinic.”
Angela Cesere | AnnArbor.com
Lycera announced a year ago that it had secured $36 million in venture capital financing from several partners, representing the largest VC influx for a Michigan company since Ann Arbor-based QuatRx Pharmaceuticals raised $44 million in 2007. That funding is available in stages - and today’s announcement means that Lycera can access the second phase.
Quick access to capital is critical for life sciences companies. Many experts say it takes an average of $1 billion and sometimes up to 20 years to shepherd drugs from inception to market.
The news comes about four months after Lycera hired CEO Bill Sibold and shifted its official headquarters to Massachusetts, where Sibold lives. U-M scientist Gary Glick, who founded the company, assured Ann Arbor’s biotech community that scientific development of Lycera’s drug therapies would continue to take place in Plymouth Township.
“Lycera’s tremendous progress is the direct result of the company’s unparalleled scientific team and biological insights in the immunology and inflammation arenas, which are the foundation of the company,” Glick said in a statement today.
Lycera conducts its scientific development at the Michigan Life Science and Innovation Center. Local economic development officials acquired the facility from pharmaceutical giant Pfizer Inc. in 2008 and turned it into an incubator for local tech companies. Lycera, Velesco Pharmaceuticals and Lipitor co-discoverer Roger Newton's Esperion Therapeutics are among the tenants.
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