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Pulmatrix Pulls in $5.7M DARPA Grant to Develop Drug Against Respiratory Threats

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5AM Ventures, Arch Venture Partners, Novartis Bioventures Fund, and Polaris Venture Partners. Part of the excitement about the technology, which could be developed to combat multiple bugs with one treatment, is its key differences from the standard approach of developing individual drugs against one specific infection.

The firm’s particles are designed to enhance the barrier at the fluid lining of lungs. Its properties are intended to both make it difficult for pathogens to infiltrate the lungs and to increase hydration and movement of protective hairs lining the lungs to remove pathogens. Also, the firm’s technology activates a molecular pathway that leads to the secretion of antimicrobial peptides to take out foreign invaders in the lungs, according to the company.

While Pulmatrix has been support by grants and venture capital so far, Connelly said, the firm expects to land corporate deals in the future to provide funding. And the firm has recently named Eva Jack, a former managing director of MedImmune Ventures, to be the biotech’s chief business officer to focus on making deals with corporate partners.

Pulmatrix has a big year planned for 2011. The firm is now in an early-stage clinical trial with its treatment for asthmatics, a study that is expected to yield data in the first half of next year. And plans are to start a Phase I clinical trial for a treatment for patients with COPD early next year. The firm plans to develop the same dry-powder drug candidate as it’s using in the COPD patients for people with asthma, the flu, and cystic fibrosis, according to its website.

Importantly, next year will be the first time the company will have data on the effectiveness of its drugs in humans, Connelly says. Depending on how well its clinical trials and talks with corporate partners go, the company could have some exciting news to share next year.

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