Imara, Inc., an orphan drug company formed by Cydan Development, a Cambridge, Mass.-based orphan drug accelerator dedicated to creating therapies for people living with rare genetic diseases, raised $31m in a Series A round of funding.
Backers included New Enterprise Associates, Pfizer Venture Investments, Lundbeckfond Ventures, Bay City Capital and Alexandria Venture Investments.
Led by Chief Executive Officer James McArthur, PhD, who is also Co-Founder and Chief Scientific Officer of Cydan, Imara is dedicated to developing novel therapeutics for patients with sickle cell disease, a rare, genetic blood disease that leads to a reduction of healthy red blood cells, blocked blood vessels and a multitude of pathologies.
The funds will allow Imara to develop IMR-687*, a disease-modifying therapeutic discovered by H. Lundbeck A/S and selected specifically for the treatment of sickle cell disease and other hemoglobinopathies. Lundbeck granted Imara an exclusive worldwide license and will receive certain milestone payments and royalties on sales as well as minority ownership in Imara.
Imara announced plans to file an Investigational New Drug (IND) application with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to develop IMR-687 for sickle cell disease in 2016.
*IMR-687 is 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 characterized by sickling of red blood cells and the occlusion or blockage of small blood vessels by the rigid, sickle-shaped red blood cells. Pre-clinical data shows IMR-687 reduces both the sickling of red blood cells and blood vessel occlusion.