Reporting Matt Roush
ANN ARBOR — Esperion Therapeutics Inc. announced that it has completed a $33 million preferred stock financing led by new investor Longitude Capital.
Esperion is developing and commercializing new therapies to treat high cholesterol that can be taken in pill form, and which don’t cause some of the side effects of current statin drugs.
Existing investors Aisling Capital, Alta Partners, Domain Associates, Arboretum Ventures and Asset Management also participated in the financing. In connection with this financing, Longitude’s Patrick Enright will join Esperion’s board of directors.
“This financing allows us to continue to advance our novel lead product candidate, ETC-1002, for which we have 100 percent worldwide rights, in multiple ongoing and planned Phase 2 clinical trials,” said Tim Mayleben, Esperion’s president and CEO.
Esperion says ETC-1002 lowers low-density cholesterol, the so-called bad cholesterol. It can be taken by mouth just once a day. It’s the first such therapy to target known lipid and carbohydrate metabolic pathways to lower levels of LDL-C while avoiding many of the side effects fo current LDL-C lowering medications.
Phase 2a clinical trials of ETC-1002 conducted so far have demonstrated significant average LDL-C reductions — as high as 43 percent – and reductions about equal to statins in levels of high sensitivity C-reactive protein, or hsCRP, a key marker of inflammation associated with cardiovascular disease.
ETC-1002 has been well tolerated and is not associated with serious side effects, and there have been no serious adverse events in over 230 ETC-1002 treated patients. And its one-pill-a-day administration is a major advantage over other therapies currently in development that, if approved, will require regular injections.
It is estimated that more than two million U.S. adults have discontinued statin therapy because of muscle pain or weakness. Because symptoms of muscle pain or weakness occur in up to 20 percent of patients on statin therapy in clinical practice, Esperion believes the size of the statin-intolerant market is poised to grow if a novel non-statin therapy becomes available.
“To date, we have used our resources efficiently to get us to this critical stage of development with what I believe is an LDL-C lowering therapy with differentiated non-statin mechanisms,” added Roger Newton, Esperion’s executive chairman and chief scientific officer. “We intend to use this financing to advance ETC-1002 through the next important phase of development.”
Said Patrick Enright of Longitude: “I look forward to working with Roger, Tim and the entire Esperion team to realize the full potential of ETC-1002 in patients with elevated LDL-C who cannot tolerate statin therapy.”
More at www.esperion.com.
Aisling Capital is a private equity firm headquartered in New York with $1 billion under management. It invests in products, technologies and businesses that advance health. In addition to investing in companies developing pharmaceutical, biopharmaceutical and medical products, Aisling invests in businesses that provide drug development, manufacturing and other important services to the healthcare industry. More at www.aislingcapital.com.
Alta Partners is a San Francisco-based venture capital firm focused on life sciences investing. Founded in 1996, the firm has raised over $2 billion in committed capital through eight venture fund programs. Alta invests in biopharmaceutical and medical technology companies across the development continuum, from company formation to later-stage opportunities, and has funded more than 130 life sciences companies to date. More at www.altapartners.com.
Arboretum Ventures is an early-stage venture capital firm specializing in the healthcare sector. Arboretum invests throughout the United States, with a special interest in the Midwest region. Founded in 2002 and headquartered in Ann Arbor, Arboretum currently manages $240 million in capital. More at www.arboretumvc.com.
Asset Management was founded in 1965 by Franklin “Pitch” Johnson, formerly of Draper and Johnson. Over nearly half a century, the firm has provided early-stage financing for groundbreaking companies such as Amgen, Tandem Computer and Applied BioSystems. Today, the firm continues its diversified investing approach by deploying capital in early-stage companies focused on therapeutics, digital health, big data analytics and mobility. The firm is run by a leadership team comprised of former operators with expertise in science, engineering and medicine. More at www.assetman.com.
Domain Associates LLC is a venture capital firm founded in 1985 with an exclusive focus on life sciences. With $2 billion of capital under management, Domain is headquartered in Princeton, N.J. with a second office in San Diego, Calif. More at www.domainvc.com.
Longitude Capital, an investment firm with over $700 million in assets under management, focuses on venture growth investments in the life sciences industry. The firm targets investment opportunities in privately held biotechnology and medical device companies that are clinically de-risked and have well-defined capital requirements. Longitude also actively invests in PIPEs and structured transactions in publicly traded companies. Longitude has offices in Menlo Park, Calif. and Greenwich, Conn. More at www.longitudecapital.com.