LONDON, March 18, 2019 /PRNewswire/ --
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Arix Bioscience plc ("Arix") (LSE: ARIX), a global healthcare and life science company supporting medical innovation, today announces it has invested in new portfolio company Imara, Inc. ("Imara"), a company dedicated to developing novel therapeutics for chronic treatment of Sickle Cell Disease ("SCD") and other hemoglobinopathies.
As part of the financing, Arix has committed to invest $15.0 million (£11.3 million) for a 10% stake on a fully diluted basis. Arix Investment Director Mark Chin will join Imara's board of directors and Investment Associate John Cassidy will join as an observer.
Cambridge, MA-based Imara is developing IMR-687, an orally-administered, highly potent and selective phosphodiesterase 9 (PDE9) inhibitor developed to treat the underlying causes of the pathology of sickle cell disease, a condition characterised by sickling of red blood cells and the occlusion or blockage of small blood vessels by the rigid, sickle-shaped red blood cells. The company has a highly experienced leadership team led by Chief Executive Officer Rahul Ballal, formerly the Chief Business Officer at Northern Biologics and Entrepreneur-in-Residence at Versant Ventures. Early clinical data in SCD patients support the potential for IMR-687 to improve health outcomes and possibly ameliorate disease pathology. The mechanism of IMR-687 is differentiated from other therapies in development by its dual action on both red and white blood cells. IMR-687 successfully completed a Phase 1 study in healthy volunteers and is currently being tested in a global Phase 2a study in adult SCD patients, including sites in the UK.
The financing was co-led by new investors Arix and Orbimed Advisors and also included RA Capital and Rock Springs Capital. Existing investors NEA, Pfizer Ventures, Bay City Capital, Lundbeckfonden Ventures and Alexandria Venture Investments also participated in the fundraise. Proceeds from the financing will be used to progress clinical development in sickle cell disease in adults and children, and broader applications in beta thalassemia and other haematological conditions.
Joe Anderson, Chief Executive Officer of Arix, commented: "Sickle cell disease affects a large and growing population across the world and is devastating for both patients and families. Imara is led by an exceptional team developing a novel, compelling approach to treating this difficult disease. We look forward to working with the leadership team and our co-investors to help accelerate the development of this exciting company."
Rahul Ballal, Chief Executive Officer of Imara, commented:
"This is a transformative moment for Imara, as this financing allows us to accelerate clinical development for IMR-687 in SCD and expand its utility to other populations and related haematological diseases. We hope to provide patients a meaningful, but easy-to-use therapy in their fight against SCD and related disorders.
"We are delighted by the strong support from Arix as well as our existing and new investors and I look forward to working closely with Mark and John to build the company and team."
About Arix Bioscience plc
Arix Bioscience plc is a global healthcare and life science company supporting medical innovation. Headquartered in London and with an office in New York, Arix Bioscience sources, finances and builds world class healthcare and life science businesses addressing medical innovation at all stages of development. Operations are supported by privileged access to breakthrough academic science and strategic relationships with leading research accelerators and global pharmaceutical companies.
Arix Bioscience plc is listed on the Main Market of the London Stock Exchange. For further information, please visit www.arixbioscience.com
About Imara, Inc.
Imara Inc., is dedicated to developing novel therapeutics for people living with sickle cell disease and other hemoglobinopathies. Sickle cell disease is a rare, genetic blood disease that causes red blood cells to sickle and become damaged, activating immune cells and blocking blood flow in capillaries, injuring many organs and causing daily pain. Imara is developing IMR-687, a highly selective, potent small molecule inhibitor of phosphodiesterase-9 (PDE9i), to treat patients with sickle cell disease. Imara has received Orphan Drug Designation from the US FDA for IMR-687 for SCD and has initiated a phase 2a [global] clinical trial in adult patients with the indication.
About Sickle Cell Disease
Sickle cell disease is a rare, genetically inherited condition, which affects haemoglobin, the protein in red blood cells that transports oxygen throughout the body. Sickle cell disease is a multi-organ disease afflicting more than 160,000 individuals in the United States and Europe, and many more in Africa and Asia. Due to the sickling of the red blood cells, and activation of immune cells and the blood vessel endothelial lining, patients bear the burden a multitude of pathologies from this disease. At the basis of many of these symptoms is occlusion or blockage of vessels in micro-capillary beds. As a result of this pathology, patients experience repeated episodes of vaso-occlusive crisis or VOC, acute chest syndrome or ACS, damage to other organs including the liver, spleen, kidney and the brain.
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SOURCE Arix Bioscience plc
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