Merganser Biotech Inc., a Newtown Square, Pa.-based developer of new medicines for the treatment of rare hematological and iron overload diseases, raised $28m in Series A financing.
The round was led by the Novartis Venture Fund, with participation from Frazier Healthcare, Sutter Hill Ventures and Osage University Partners and seed investors BioAdvance and Stateside Developments. In connection with the financing, Markus Goebel of the Novartis Venture Fund, James Topper of Frazier Healthcare and Jeffrey Bird of Sutter Hill Ventures will join Merganser’s Board of Directors. Bill Harrington of Osage University Partners will also join in an observer role.
The company intends to use the funds to develop its hepcidin mimetic peptides.
Founded by Brian MacDonald and Gene Merutka, Merganser Biotech focuses on the evaluation of novel hepcidin mimetic peptides for the treatment of beta thalassemia and other rare hematological and iron overload diseases. In 2013, the company obtained an exclusive worldwide license to patent rights for this technology from the Regents of the University of California.
Hepcidin mimetic peptides were discovered by Professors Tomas Ganz and Elizabeta Nemeth at the University of California, Los Angeles. In their studies hepcidin mimetics were shown to be capable of replicating the biological effects of hepcidin and to be effective in controlling iron overload in animal models.
Merganser has worked with Professors Ganz and Nemeth and with Dr Stefano Rivella at Weill Cornell Medical College to discover and evaluate promising hepcidin mimetic peptides. This collaboration has established that administration of hepcidin mimetic peptides produces therapeutic iron restriction that improves both anemia and iron overload in models of beta thalassemia and can also control the accelerated erythropoiesis caused by mutated Jak2 that is the hallmark of polycythemia vera.