As Attenua continues to develop its lead program for chronic cough, it will be doing so with $35 million in the bank and under the leadership of a new CEO.
In conjunction with the Series A funding — led by Omega Funds with participation from a syndicate that includes Abingworth, OrbiMed and Redmile Group — Michael Kitt has taken the helm from founder Jing Liang. Kitt had previously served as CMO at a few biotechs, most recently at another cough drug developer, Afferent Pharmaceuticals, prior to its acquisition by Merck.
Attenua got at least part of its pipeline from a post-merger Catalyst Biosciences, when Catalyst was looking to offload several oral neuronal nicotinic receptor (NNR) assets that came with Targacept. The plan was to repurpose one of those molecules for cough — presumably Attenua’s lead drug candidate, ATA-101 — and another for rare pediatric disorder.
The biotech will put the new capital to use, pushing ATA-101 through Phase II clinical trials, including a proof-of-concept study expected to launch later this year, Kitt said in a statement.
While the virtual biotech was originally conceived to be based in New York City — an aspiring new biotech hub — its operations will be moving to the San Francisco area to cater to the new management team and board.
Three representatives from the Series A backers will join the board, including Omega Funds advisor Dina Chaya, Abingworth managing partner Kurt von Emster and Orbimed private equity partner Rishi Gupta.
“We saw a unique opportunity with Attenua to lead this financing, and are looking forward to working with Michael and the Attenua team,” Chaya said in a statement. “Chronic cough remains a significant unmet need affecting more than 2.5 million people in the U.S. alone.”
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