Pulmatrix Wins $14M to Back Drug For Cystic Fibrosis And Other Lung Ailments

8/15/11Follow @arleneweintraub

Pulmatrix, the Lexington, MA-based company with an unusual strategy for fighting diseases of the lungs, is announcing today that it has secured $14 million in a Series B1 venture round, bringing the total amount raised by the company to $60 million. All of Pulmatrix’s existing investors participated, including Polaris Venture Partners, 5AM Ventures, Arch Venture Partners, and Novartis Venture Fund.

The company also announced that it will advance its lead compound, called PUR118, as a new treatment for cystic fibrosis, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)—an umbrella term for diseases like emphysema and chronic bronchitis that commonly affect smokers. Recently completed Phase 1 studies in healthy volunteers showed the new drug was safe and well-tolerated, the company reports, so Pulmatrix will move the treatment into additional trials designed to measure PUR118′s effects on airway inflammation and mucus. The new cash, says CEO Robert Connelly, “will get us through these critical studies over the next 18 months, which will put us in position to plan larger, pivotal studies.”

Pulmatrix is using its technology platform, which it calls iCalm, to create aerosol treatments that attack lung ailments from three directions. First, they have positively-charged ion-based compounds, like calcium and magnesium, which stimulate the immune system to fight off many different pathogens that people breathe in all the time, like viruses and bacteria. “We have the ability to take on all comers—we can deal with any airborne infection, ” Connelly says. Secondly, the drugs produce an anti-inflammatory effect without the use of steroids-a common ingredient in many lung remedies. And finally, they help clear mucus from the lungs.

PUR118 is a dry powder that patients can inhale. Pulmatrix initially developed it as a liquid formulation, called PUR003, which patients had to inhale via a somewhat bulky machine called a nebulizer. Pulmatrix reformulated the drug so it could be used like an asthma inhaler—a far more … Next Page »

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