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Biotech Lands $20M Series A Funds for Protein Therapies

Currency dice (MD4 Group/Flickr)Eleven Biotherapeutics in Cambridge, Massachusetts has secured an additional $20 million in series A funds, the first round of investment financing after initial start-up. A new investor, JAFCO Company Ltd in Tokyo, joins existing investors Third Rock Ventures and Flagship Ventures in the deal.

Eleven Biotherapeutics is expected to use the proceeds from the financing to advance the company’s first candidate, EBI-005, into clinical development. EBI-005 is a protein-based therapeutic designed for topical administration to treat eye disorders, such dry eye syndrome and severe ocular allergies. Dry eye syndrome, which affects 10 to 20 percent of adults, is a disorder of the eye’s tear film and is associated with symptoms such as burning, foreign body sensation, and fluctuating vision.

The company expects to use the funds as well to advance new therapies from its AMP-Rx platform.  That platform, says the company, involves designing protein therapies with complex molecular modeling and computational methods that go beyond traditional protein engineering technologies.

Eleven Biotherapeutics was founded by medical faculty from Harvard University, Stanford University, MIT, and University of Alabama at Birmingham. The founders include Reza Dana, Professor of Ophthalmology at Harvard Medical School, whose research includes studies of the molecular and cellular mechanisms of inflammation and immunity in the eye and ocular surface.

The first part of the series A round took place in February 2010, with $35 million invested by Third Rock Ventures and Flagship Ventures. In November 2010, Eleven Biotherapeutics was awarded $733,000 in grants from the Qualifying Therapeutic Discovery Project, under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010.

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Hat tip: Term Sheet/Fortune

Image: MD4 Group/Flickr

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