Drug Development

Chrono gets a $47M round for new tech designed to quell tobacco cravings

For most smokers addicted to tobacco, every new day starts with a smoke to help satisfy that initial craving for nicotine. But a startup developing new delivery tech and treatment has been working on a device that can provide measured amounts of nicotine at just the right time, looking to get smokers trying to quit through a critical initial period when most will simply give up and reach for a cigarette.

Chrono CEO Alan Levy

Chrono CEO Alan Levy

The company is Chrono Therapeutics, and this morning it’s taking the wraps off a $47.6 million B round that will fund a new set of studies to see how well this approach works. This new money brings the Bay Area biotech’s total to about $80 million. And the upcoming trials will build on studies that have already provided some support for its technology.

“First day cravings are the highest, lots drop out,” says CEO Alan Levy. “We showed a dramatic reduction in cravings compared to patches.”

Chrono has been developing a wearable, transdermal unit that’s smaller than a pack of cigarettes and can be attached just about anywhere on the body. Dormant at night, it can rev up silently just before you plan to wake up, giving smokers an initial dose of nicotine to get them through the day. And it is billed as being able to stay in touch with cycles of craving, with plans to test it over 10 weeks, using a high dose for 6 weeks, an intermediate dose for 2 weeks and a low dose for the last 2 weeks.

The company has also been developing a coaching system for cell phones to help smokers stay away from tobacco and on treatment. It also uses sensors to track a patient’s progress, to make sure they’re sticking with the program. And the biotech plans to start a new program for opioid dependence, which can help patients taper off opioids without relying on their ability to stick with a self-dosing schedule or turn up regularly at the clinic.

There’s a third program on the drawing board for Parkinson’s, which will rely on a new formulation of an older drug — Levy isn’t saying right now which drug — that could be delivered in the same way to reduce the severe tremors patients can experience.

Levy is particularly chuffed by the fact that four new members of his Series B syndicate are from outside the US. Chrono is planning to make simultaneous filings for the US and Europe, and the new money helps illustrate some international interest in its potential market.

The round was led by Kaiser Permanente Ventures and included investments by Endeavour Vision, Xeraya Capital, Asahi Kasei, Emergent Medical Partners, Hikma Ventures, Cota Capital, and Mission Bay Capital. Existing investors including Canaan Partners, 5AM Ventures, Fountain Health Partners, GE Ventures, and Mayo Clinic all participated in the round.

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