Concert Pharmaceuticals, Flush With Well-Timed Venture Round, Aims for Hot Flashes, HIV

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which might be able to help patients simplify their dosing schedules. CTP-518 is designed to be more stable in the bloodstream, avoiding the peaks and valleys of concentration in the blood that sometimes allow the HIV virus an opportunity to replicate, Tung says. A more stable drug may also help patients quit taking a combination med called ritonavir that causes increased cardiovascular risk and nausea, prompting as many as one-fifth of patients to go off their meds, Tung says. This new compound might offer the same kind of convenience as Gilead Sciences’ highly successful Atripla, the first drug approved as a single daily pill for HIV, Tung says.

Since Concert’s first drug just entered the clinic, its investors will have to be patient to wait for results. The latest round of investors includes Adage Capital Management, SR One, Mediphase Venture Partners, and Westfield Capital Management, as well as existing investors that include Three Arch Partners, TVM Capital, Skyline Ventures, Brookside Capital Partners Fund, Flagship Ventures, Greylock Partners, New Leaf Venture Partners, QVT Fund, and Alexandria Real Estate Equities.

The proof of how well Concert alters drugs, as always, will come from animal tests, and eventually clinical trials. The HIV candidate could be in the clinic by the end of 2009, and the hot flashes drug could be in a mid-stage effectiveness study next year, Tung says. If Tung’s timing continues to be spot-on, then he’ll have promising signs of effectiveness in hand that he can use to raise more cash, just as the markets turn around. But Tung doesn’t sound that confident. He says he’s keeping the operation lean, with 40 employees now, while maybe hiring 10 more over the next couple years. “We’re really fortunate to have raised our financing in the spring,” he says.

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