Genoa Pharma grabs a $62M A round to back its oral IPF drug Aerodone

Bruce Montgomery has added $62 million to the $250 million tally of venture cash he’s helped raise for the biotechs he’s worked with over the years.

Bruce Montgomery

The Series A round goes to Genoa Pharmaceuticals, a startup in Seattle that now has the cash on hand to score Phase II efficacy and safety data on an inhaled formulation of pirfenidone (Esbriet) for idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.

Esbriet was approved back in 2014 alongside nintedanib (Ofev), helping change the way IPF is treated in the US. But the advances still leave plenty of room for improvement, Montgomery believes, and that’s where the inhaled formulation comes into play.

An inhaled dose of the therapy — dubbed Aerodone — can concentrate a dose in the lungs, where it’s needed, avoiding the systemic effects of the oral therapy.

Montgomery has a 25-year track record in biotech. He was CEO of Cardeas, an SVP Gilead Sciences, founder and CEO of Corus Pharma (acquired by Gilead in 2006).  Montgomery also served as EVP of R&D at PathoGenesis Corporation until its acquisition by Chiron.  He’s once again working with co-founder Mark Surber, the CSO who did the discovery work on Aerodone.

“Reformulating systemic drugs for targeted inhaled lung delivery has successfully improved the efficacy and decreased systemic adverse effects for corticosteroids and bronchodilators in both asthma and COPD, and antibiotics in cystic fibrosis,” Montgomery says. “We hope to accomplish the same benefits with pirfenidone.”

They have the cash to find out a lot more.

F-Prime Capital Partners and Edmond de Rothschild Investment Partners led the round, with Novo AS, RiverVest Venture Partners, and TPG Biotech jumping in. F-Prime is the old Fidelity group, while Rothschild appears ready to jump out of its old stomping grounds in Europe to take a big piece of the action. The VCs brought in many of the board members — Ketan Patel, Naveed Siddiqi, Tiba Aynechi, Niall O’Donnell and Heather Preston — with Jonathan Leff, former EVP of R&D at InterMune who led the oral pirfenidone approval process, named an independent director.

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