UW Spinout, Beat Bio, Gets $2.5M to Treat Heart Failure

4/16/13Follow @xconomy

[Updated: 3:15 pm PT 4/17Beat Biotherapeutics looked like it was in trouble after its co-founder and CEO died suddenly in June 2009. But the University of Washington spinout is definitely back in business, after recruiting a veteran CEO and raising another $2.5 million to advance an experimental treatment for heart failure.

The Seattle-based company said today it has raised $2.5 million in seed funding from CET Capital Partners, and which included the W Fund. An SEC filing today said the money is coming in the form of debt, not equity.

The announcement comes a week after Beat said it hired Michael Kranda to be its new CEO. Kranda was formerly the CEO of Oxford Glycosciences, and managing director of Vulcan Capital’s life sciences portfolio. Kranda has been a well-known player in Seattle’s biotech community dating back to the 1980s when he was the chief operating officer of Immunex.

Beat Biotherapeutics counts four co-founders from the UW, including Michael Regnier, Buddy Ratner, Chuck Murry and Michael Laflamme. Early development work has been spearheaded by president and chief scientific officer Greg Mahairas. The idea is to use gene therapy to increase the pumping power of heart muscles that have been enlarged and weakened in patients suffering from congestive heart failure.

Michael Kranda, CEO of Beat Biotherapeutics

When I first profiled Beat Biotherapeutics in June 2009, it was led by the entrepreneur Stephen Quinn. Just two weeks after talking to him for that story, Quinn died suddenly, casting some doubt on the future of the company.

Beat, at that time, was seeking to develop stem cells to treat congestive heart failure, although today’s announcement of the financing makes no mention of stem cells. Today’s statement doesn’t say much about Beat’s scientific strategy, but does say that the $2.5 million will be used to put Beat’s lead product candidate into clinical trials.

“This financing is an important milestone for BEATBio and will allow us to move rapidly forward with the development of our lead product,” Kranda said in a statement. “It is reassuring to know that high quality, promising but early stage companies can still be funded in today’s investment environment. It’s a testament to the founder’s scientific leadership and the investor’s willingness to fund the critical translational phase of biotech product development.”

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