After hiring former Favrille CEO John Longenecker a few weeks ago, HemaQuest Pharmaceuticals said Friday it is relocating its headquarters to San Diego. The three-year-old startup, which is developing drugs to treat hemoglobin-associated diseases, plans to maintain an office in Seattle, but the center of gravity is now here.
In its statement, HemaQuest also says Dr. Richard Ghalie is joining HemaQuest as chief medical officer and Tamara Seymour will serve as the company’s new chief financial officer. Ghalie and Seymour both worked previously at San Diego-based Favrille with Longenecker, who said he was pleased to be reunited with his former colleagues.
Favrille was a public company focused on developing a drug that was intended to trigger the immune system to fight non-Hodgkins lymphoma. The drug failed to show any benefit in a late-stage clinical trial in 2008. MyMedicalRecords.com acquired Favrille in a reverse merger transaction in early 2009.
“I look forward to an aggressive clinical program for our lead product, HQK-1001, an orally administered Small Chain Fatty Acid Derivative (SCFAD), as a potential new treatment for hematologic disorders such as sickle cell disease and beta thalassemia,” Longenecker said in the statement. The drug candidate has orphan drug status in both the United States and Europe. The company says SCFADs represent a new class of drugs with the potential to stimulate the expression of specific target genes to treat serious and life-threatening genetic blood disorders and malignant hematologic diseases.
The move to San Diego also brings HemaQuest within the orbit of Forward Ventures, the San Diego venture firm that was among its early investors. Latterell Venture Partners, DeNovo Ventures, and Lilly Ventures are also backers, according to Seattle’s TechFlash.
HemaQuest has raised at least $36 million since it was founded in 2007 by scientists at Boston University, Colorado State University, and the University of Washington, including Susan Perrine, Douglas Faller, Ronald Berenson, Thalia Papayannopoulou and George Stamatoyannopoulos. Berenson, who was previously CEO, and Perrine, the former chief scientific officer and vice president of clinical affairs, will continue as consultants to the company.