Pharma licensing deal yields virtual startup that’s optimizing peptide drugs, raising $9.5M

Photo from flickr user breahnA licensing deal between two California pharmaceutical companies has resulted in the formation of a new San Francisco startup developing an unspecified peptide drug candidate.

With the creation of the virtual company Spitfire Pharma Inc., Velocity Pharmaceutical Development LLC said it’s pursuing a drug development program that uses EuMederis Pharmaceuticals’ EuPort technology to improve the design, synthesis and delivery of peptide drugs. According to a recent U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filing, it looks like the company is getting off the ground by opening a $9.5 million round of financing, at least half a million of which has already been secured.

EuMederis is a seed-stage company that says it has discovered a way to improve the bioavailability and dosing schedules of peptide pharmaceuticals, with an initial focus on indications in pain, osteoporosis and metabolic syndrome. Velocity’s team of venture capitalists, researchers and entrepreneurs scoops up promising drug candidates and ushers them through clinical development. Spitfire Pharma will be managed by members of Velocity’s team and the CEO of EuMederis, John Nestor.

“The EuMederis model of rapid peptide optimization has quickly provided us with an attractive peptide development candidate and its low-infrastructure organization is consistent with our plan for Velocity Pharmaceutical Development,” Velocity CEO David J. Collier said in an announcement last week.


In a 2010 paper (PDF), Rodney Lax of the PolyPeptide Group estimated there were about 60 approved peptide drugs, plus 140 in the clinic and another 500 in preclinical development. Interest in peptides as a class, Spitfire says, has been boosted over the past several years by scientific developments that may help peptide drugs overcome their typical short duration of action and allow for delivery by methods other than self-injection.

The therapeutic target of Spitfire’s drug candidate was not released.

[Photo from flickr user rueful]

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