CoLucid Pharmaceuticals has raised $37.1 million to finance late-stage clinical trials on a potential migraine drug that the company hopes will be a safer alternative to currently available migraine treatments.
TVM Capital Life led the Series C round, which included participation from new investors Novo Ventures and Auriga Partners. Existing investors Pappas Ventures, Domain Associates, Care Capital, Triathlon Medical Ventures, and Pearl Street Ventures all participated in the round. CoLucid is headquartered in Durham, NC.
Migraine headaches currently affect 36 million Americans, according to the Migraine Research Foundation. The drugs commonly used to treat migraine are triptans, a drug class that has been associated with side effects including neck or chest tightness and a rapid heart rate. Triptan drugs work by constricting blood vessels, so they are not recommended for patients with cardiovascular conditions. Triptans date to the early 1990s and the earliest triptans have lost patent protection. Medications in the triptan class include sumatriptan (Imitrex), rizatriptan (Maxalt), almotriptan (Axert), naratriptan (Amerge), zolmitriptan (Zomig), frovatriptan (Frova), and eletriptan (Relpax).
CoLucid’s lasmiditan, from a new drug class called ditans, works by a different mechanism, instead targeting a receptor in the trigeminal nerve that is responsible for sensations in the face. The company says that its drug could become an alternative, both for migraine patients who have cardiovascular risks as well as those who don’t find relief from triptan drugs.
Lasmiditan has been developed in both pill and intravenous forms. The financing will pay for Phase 3 clinical trials of the pill form of the CoLucid drug in the treatment of migraine headaches. CoLucid has a “special protocol assessment” for the trial, which is an agreement with the Food and Drug Administration on the study design and how the data from the study will be analyzed. While these agreements do not guarantee drug approval, companies hope to minimize the risk of an FDA rejection—as long as a drug meets the agreed upon study goals.
CoLucid was founded in 2005 by Durham venture capital firm Pappas Ventures, which formed the company to focus on central nervous system disorders. The compound that became lasmiditan was licensed from Eli Lilly (NYSE: LLY).