Gilead, Gates Foundation Join Lyndra’s $55M Funding for Phase 2 Tests

Xconomy Boston — 

Lyndra Therapeutics, a startup whose technology turns daily pills into extended-release formulations intended to last a week or longer, has raised $55 million to advance several of its drugs into mid-stage studies.

The Series B round of funding was led by Polaris Partners, the firm that also led Lyndra’s Series A financing nearly two years ago.

Watertown, MA-based Lyndra says its capsules can provide a longer-lasting therapeutic effect because they stay in the stomach for a longer period of time compared to traditional pills. The drug itself is carried on a star-shaped device compressed inside a capsule. As the capsule dissolves, the arms of the star unfurl. Rather than passing through the stomach quickly as pills do, Lyndra says the open star shape keeps the device in the stomach, where it releases its drug payload in a controlled manner. The Lyndra technology was initially developed in the MIT laboratory of professor Robert Langer.

Lyndra’s most advanced drug candidate is a version of the generic Alzheimer’s drug memantine hydrochloride (Namenda), a pill taken twice daily. Last November, Lyndra released positive results from a small study that showed that its once-weekly version of the drug was comparable to historical data of once-daily, extended release memantine hydrochloride. Lyndra added that the study in eight patients showed no evidence of a “burst effect,” the release of the drug in an uncontrolled and unpredictable manner.

With the new funding, Lyndra aims to advance its drugs into Phase 2 testing. Besides the Alzheimer’s drug, Lyndra’s pipeline includes seven other drugs for psychiatric disorders, opioid use disorder, and cardiovascular and metabolic diseases. In addition to clinical testing of those drugs, Lyndra says the cash will help the company add more drugs to its pipeline and support manufacturing of its products. Lyndra also says it is preparing a long-acting schizophrenia drug for a Phase 2 study expected to begin next year.

Other earlier investors that participated in Lyndra’s latest funding include Quark Venture and GF Securities, Yonghua Capital, Healthlink Capital, Partners HealthCare, and Suffolk Equity Partners. The company also added new investors Gilead Sciences (NASDAQ: GILD), the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, HOPU Investments, Invus, and Orient Life.

Image by Flickr user Marco Verch via a Creative Commons license