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San Diego’s PharmAkea Raises Capital, Forms Alliance with Celgene

Xconomy San Diego — 

San Diego-based PharmAkea Therapeutics, founded last year by key scientists from Amira Pharmaceuticals, said it has raised $10 million in Series A funding from San Francisco’s Bay City Capital.

PharmAkea, founded by John Hutchinson, Jilly Evans, and Kevin Holme, also secured a $35 million commitment from Celgene (NASDAQ: CELG) as part of a three-year collaboration to advance the startup’s work on small-molecule drugs for cancer and fibrotic diseases. In a statement, Hutchinson said, “We see tremendous potential to leverage our expertise in the emerging biological understanding of connective tissue disorders to develop new therapeutics for these grave diseases, which carry high morbidity and mortality and affect a significant portion of the population.”

Celgene, which provided seed funding for PharmAkea, holds an option to extend its collaboration. In addition, Celgen plans to take an equity stake in the startup, and will retain an exclusive option to acquire PharmAkea.

In a statement Friday, PharmAkea said Robert Williamson, a veteran life sciences executive who was previously a partner with The Boston Consulting Group, has joined the company as CEO.