Ann Arbor pharmaceutical company raised $62 million in funding to develop drugs that might help curing endocrine diseases. This is the largest venture capital for a drug company in the history of Michigan.
Representatives of Millendo Therapeutics Inc. who made the announcement on Tuesday have also said that the company made an exclusive licensing agreement with AstraZeneca plc – a pharmaceutical giant based in London – to continue both human trials and the commercialization of a drug that the company developed to fight women’s most common endocrine disease – the polycystic ovary syndrome.
At the press conference announcing all these, the representatives have also announced that the company’s new name will be Millendo instead of Atterocor as it has formerly been known.
The previous funding record for a pharmaceutical company has been set in 2014 by ProNAi Therapeutics Inc. which managed to raise $59.9 million.
The company’s first use of capital will soon be a payment to Astra Zeneca, an upfront payment for the rights to the drug.
According to Julia Owens, the company’s President and CEO the name has been changed because Atterocor, the previous name was too often mispronounced and misspelled.
Owen says that the “Mill” in Millendo is homage to Millie Schembechler. Millie was the wife of Bo Schembechler, a legendary football coach at the University of Michigan.
Bo has established and helped fund the Adrenal Cancer Program at the University of Michigan, which also bears the name of his wife, who died of adrenal cancer in 1992. One of Atterocor’s co-founders, Gary Hammer, held the Millie Schembechler professorship at UM.
The last half of the company’s new name “-endo” comes from endocrine disease, the company’s main research focus.
Atterocor was founded in 2012 and its first funding it got was $16 million to start human trials on a drug designed to fight adrenal cancer. This is a very rare and aggressive type of cancer, usually killing patients within a year from diagnosis.
The other co-founder of the company was Raili Kerppola who was diagnosed with adrenal cancer at the end of 2010 when she was told she has less than a year left to live. But Kerppolla refused to give up the fight and start attacking the cancer experimenting with different drugs.
Despite the fact that she lived almost two years more than it was estimated she died before having the chance to see the drug she worked to develop tested in human trials.
The pharmaceutical company raised $62 million for the second phase of human trial, being funded by huge investors such as Roche Venture Fund; Adams Street Partners; Longwood Fund and Leerink Partners LLC.
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