Secretive Biotech Arsanis Raises $9.6M

2/8/11

Arsanis, a mysterious biotech firm based in Lebanon, NH, has raised $9.6 million in equity financing, according to an SEC filing. Tillman Gerngross, the co-founder and CEO of the Lebanon-based antibody discovery firm Adimab, is listed as an executive and director of Arsanis.

Arsanis’s board also includes some of Gerngross’s previous Adimab backers, among them Terry McGuire of Polaris Venture Partners, Michael Ross of SV Life Sciences, and Carl Gordon of OrbiMed Advisors, according to the regulatory filing. (Polaris and SV Life Sciences also backed Gerngross’s earlier biotech, GlycoFi, which Merck (NYSE:MRK) acquired in 2006 for $400 million.) It’s not clear whether this new firm Arsanis is related to a company called Arsanis Biosciences, which has online advertisements for jobs at its lab near Vienna, Austria, and is focused on developing human antibodies against bacterial infections.

A call was made early this afternoon to a phone number Arsanis listed in its SEC filing (which turned out to be Adimab’s main office line), but there was no answer. The filing says that Arsanis was founded in 2010.

Gerngross, who couldn’t be immediately contacted today, has been building up Adimab’s platform for a yeast-based system for discovering human antibodies for several years. Founded in 2007 by Gerngross and Dane Wittrup of MIT, Adimab has already struck drug-discovery alliances with industry giants such as Pfizer (NYSE:PFE), Merck, and Novartis (NYSE:NVS). At GlycoFi, Gerngross led the development of the company’s yeast-based technology for engineering protein drugs.

It’ll be interesting to learn what Gerngross and his investors are up to at Arsanis.

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