Although not nearly as robust as several years ago (that’s an understatement), venture capital is still flowing into biotech and specialty pharma companies, just not like in the past.  In October, two companies trying to develop novel approaches to dermatological disorders completed Series A financings.  In the larger of the two, Aclaris Therapeutics, Inc. raised $21 million led by Vivo Ventures and Fidelity Biosciences with a participation from Sofinnova Ventures.  Aclaris is developing a new topical product, and it will be led by Dr. Neal Walker, a dermatologist who has been the CEO of a few other small pharmaceutical companies that have recently been sold.
In the slightly smaller deal, Thesan Pharmaceuticals raised $16 million in a Series A co-led by Novo Ventures and Novartis Venture Funds.  Thesan has a lead drug candidate that is a topically-applied chemical treatment that is expected to enter the clinic next year.  The company has been licensing products from the University of California, Irvine, and is also working with the Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia in Genoa, Italy.
Novartis Venture Funds also led a Series A1 round for Neurovance, Inc., a spinout of Euthymic Bioscience, Inc., that is focusing on the development of a treatment for adult attention deficit hyperactivity.  Neurovance recently completed a phase 1 clinical trial of its lead product, which was well tolerated and demonstrated a wide therapeutic index.  One of the things they like about this new drug is that it may have a low risk of drug abuse. Six existing investors also participated in this small round.       
In some later stage deals, Genocea Biosciences, Inc. raised $30 million in a Series C round, which was co-led by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and CVF, LLC, with eight existing investors also participating.  The company has now raised a total of $76 million.  Genocea is a clinical stage company working on innovative T-cell vaccines for infectious diseases.  Its two lead programs include a clinical stage therapeutic vaccine candidate to deal with moderate and severe Herpes Simplex Virus type 2, as well as a drug candidate to prevent infections caused by Streptococcus pneumonia.  It is also working to expand its malaria program together with the Gates Foundation………Want to read more? Click here for a free trial to The Health Care M&A Information Source and download the current issue today