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Edge Brings in VC Backers, Gets $72.5M For Head Injury Drug

Xconomy New York — 

With former Celgene CEO Sol Barer and famed MIT professor Bob Langer among its advisors and directors, Edge Therapeutics has always had some star power behind it. Now the Berkeley Heights, NJ-based startup has a big investor syndicate too.

Edge revealed today that it’s closed two different financing rounds together worth about $72.5 million: a $56 million Series C-2 in April, and a $16.5 million C-1 round in December. The C-2 gives Edge a much different look. Since inception, it’s been backed by a group of unnamed “high net worth individuals.” Now it’s got a broad syndicate of investors more typical of a growing biotech startup: Venrock, Sofinnova Ventures, New Leaf Ventur Partners, BioMed Ventures, Franklin Templeton, and Janus Funds all took part in the $56 million April round.

These financings are part of a Series C round that started with an $18 million deal in June 2013.

Edge executives weren’t immediately available for comment on Thursday, but according to a press release the company is using the cash to push forward a drug it’s been developing to combat potentially deadly delayed effects of aneurysms and severe head injuries. One of the risks patients have after doctors repair an aneurysm, for instance, is what’s known as a cerebral vasospasm, a narrowing of the arteries of the brain that can lead to life-threatening complications. Doctors typically try to prevent this from happening by giving people a nimodipine, a pill approved by the FDA more than two decades ago.

Edge contends that this drug is flawed; patients can’t get the right dose without dangerous side effects like low blood pressure. So it’s made an injectable sustained-release form called EG-1962 that’s administered right after surgery, and meant to be released over the course of 21 days. This reformulation approach is the type of thing Edge aims to do to improve other old, already-approved drugs. It’s a way of reducing the inherent risk and expenses in drug development.

Edge has been testing EG-1962 in a small early-stage study, and says that so far it’s seen encouraging signs that the drug is helping people recover from aneurysms better than nimodipine. Edge presented preliminary results from that study in February, and will add more updated data in mid-2015. It’ll use the new cash—and the help of its new VC investors—to finish that study and prep for a pivotal trial, the last needed before asking the FDA for approval.

“This significant financing from a sophisticated syndicate of leading life sciences investors is a transformative event for Edge,” said Barer, Celgene’s former CEO and Edge’s chairman. “We welcome the new members of our Board of Directors, whose deep experience in both venture capital and specifically in biotechnology will be invaluable as Edge continues to grow into a fully integrated biotechnology company.”