Another Big Venture Round for Acceleron Pharma

10/30/07

Acceleron Pharma’s $25 million Series A financing round was the biggest Boston-area venture deal of 2004. The Cambridge, MA-based firm’s $30 million Series B was the seventh largest New England biotech/pharma deal of 2006. No telling yet exactly how the firm’s Series C, announced today, will rank, but it’s another big one: $31 million in a deal led by Bessemer Venture Partners (a new investor for Acceleron) and joined by the likes of Polaris Venture Partners, MPM BioEquities, QVT Financial, Advanced Technology Ventures, Flagship Ventures, OrbiMed Advisors, Sutter Hill Ventures, and Venrock.

So what’s the firm doing with all the cash? It’s got one drug candidate, a treatment to help cancer patients rebuild bone mass, ready to move into Phase 2 clinical trials, hopefully in the first quarter of 2008. A second drug, aimed at boosting muscle mass in patients with such ailments as muscular dystrophy, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, and cancer, should begin Phase 1 clinical trials the same quarter, and a third candidate, an anti-angiogenesis drug, should enter clinicals in the second half of the year.

Polaris was Acceleron’s first investor when it was founded by a team including John Knopf (the firm’s current CEO) and legendary Harvard biologist Tom Maniatis. Several of the founders were veterans of Genetics Institute, a Cambridge firm bought by American Home Products (now Wyeth) for almost $2 billion. Terry McGuire, a Polaris co-founder and managing general partner, says the investment firm is “really thrilled with the team we’ve created there.” What’s more, he says, Polaris is very happy with the progress of Acceleron’s clinical programs. “When you put those two together, it’s a powerful combination,” he says.

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