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Biotech Secures $13M in Series B Funding for Clinical Trial

Blood bag (NIH)

(National Institutes of Health)

HemaQuest Pharmaceuticals Inc., a biotechnology company in San Diego, closed a $13 million extension of its series B financing, the second round of funding after initial start-up. The extension is funded by existing investors Aberdare Ventures, De Novo Ventures, Forward Ventures, Latterell Venture Partners, and Lilly Ventures.

HemaQuest develops small molecule therapies to treat disorders in hemoglobin, the protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen. The financing is expected to fund a phase 2b clinical test of the company’s lead candidate HQK-1001 in patients with sickle cell disease.  HQK-1001 is an orally administered drug derived from short-chain fatty acids designed to induce fetal globin and stimulate red blood cell production. These properties address the mechanisms underlying the blood disorders sickle cell anemia and beta thalassemia.

Sickle cell anemia is a disease passed down through families in which red blood cells form an abnormal crescent shape, rather than the normal disc shape. The sickle-shaped cells deliver less oxygen to the body’s tissues, and can get stuck more easily in small blood vessels, interrupting healthy blood flow. Beta thalassemia is also an inherited a blood disorder, where the body makes an abnormal form of hemoglobin and results in excessive destruction of red blood cells, which leads to anemia.

The technology behind HQK-1001 was first developed at Boston University by a research team that included HemaQuest co-founder Susan Perrine, a professor of medicine, pediatrics, pharmacology, and experimental therapeutics at BU. The drug has completed animal toxicology studies and phase 1 clinical trials that show it is safe and well-tolerated.

This financing extension is expected to allow the company to complete the phase 2b trial of HQK-1001 and fund operations through early 2014.

Read more: Simple Blood Test Checks Sickle Cell Anemia Symptoms Risk

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