Tolera Therapeutics, Cleveland Clinic Spinoff Focused on Immune Disorders, Raises $4M
Tolera Therapeutics was named one of Michigan’s top 50 companies to watch this spring, and now it has raised more capital to pursue its idea for making effective new drugs against immune system disorders.
The company, based in Kalamazoo, MI, has nailed down about $4.1 million out of an equity financing round that could be worth as much as $6.1 million, according to a filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission. The company hasn’t issued any public statement about the financing, and chief financial officer James Herrmann wasn’t immediately available to comment on the deal.
Tolera is seeking to develop genetically engineered antibody drugs that counteract the effects of autoimmunity, in which the body’s own immune system goes haywire and starts attacking healthy tissue like a virus. The company was founded in January 2007 to build on research from the University of Kentucky and the Cleveland Clinic. Tolera said it raised $8 million in its initial round of financing in June 2008 from Triathlon Medical Ventures, the Southwest Michigan First Life Science Fund, and Grand Rapids, MI-based Hopen Therapeutics.
Since then, the company has moved its lead product candidate, TOL101, through the first phase of clinical trials in about 100 patients, and is preparing for a more rigorous stage of study to demonstrate whether it can actually help patients. The Tolera technology is supposed to home in specifically on certain T-cells of the immune system which go awry in patients with Type 1 diabetes or multiple sclerosis, and which can cause patients to reject transplanted tissue during surgery. The vision is to make these immune-altering drugs so selective that they can tamp down the excessive inflammation of these conditions, without triggering a dangerous immune reaction against the drug, while maintaining strong enough immune defenses so that patients don’t become vulnerable to infections.
The regulatory filing doesn’t say who invested in this most recent financing for Tolera, although it does say five investors participated. The document also lists five people on the company’s board of directors. They are CEO John Puisis, the former CEO of Madison, WI-based Third Wave Technologies; Donald Parfet, the managing partner of Apjohn Group; Suzette Dutch, the managing partner of Triathlon Medical Ventures; Mark Olesnavage, the president of Hopen Therapeutics; and Douglas Morton, a pharmaceutical industry consultant.