Torrey Pines Investment, a San Diego life sciences investment firm with close ties in Russia, has raised $30 million for a second venture fund that is targeting $150 million.
Nicolay Savchuk, a Russian-born mathematician and Torrey Pines director, was traveling yesterday and said he was not available to comment on the fund-raising effort, which was reported previously by Mergermarket and VentureWire.
In an email to me, though, Savchuk said, “The capital will be used to finance acquisition and development or co-development of [drug] candidates from pharma and biotech companies towards monetization event at the next big value step—usually at the proof of concept in human [trials].”
Savchuk and Jay Lichter, the CEO of San Diego-based aFraxis, outlined how co-development works in a presentation last month to the San Diego Venture Group. Lichter said aFraxis completed pre-clinical testing of a promising compound for treating a form of autism in record time, and at a savings of roughly $4 million, by joining forces with Torrey Pines Investment. Savchuk explained that in exchange for an equity stake in aFraxis, his company financed the pre-clinical testing through a full-service contract research organization it owns near Moscow. The testing validated a neurological target for Fragile X syndrome that was identified in the laboratory of MIT Nobel laureate Susumu Tonegawa.
Savchuk told the venture group audience that his firm likes to identify and invest in potential drug candidate “assets”—and use its R&D capabilities in Russia to produce “data packages” that hopefully validate continued development.
In his email to me, Savchuk explained that Torrey Pines Investment plans to use its funding to continue similar collaborations, which are arranged by Torrey Pines and its affiliate ChemRar High Tech Center of Moscow. Torrey Pines, he said, works “in partnership with original pharma, biotech, or in concert with like-minded investors executing virtual development model similar to Afraxis, Roche / Viriom and other deals we closed in the recent past.”
The ChemRar High Tech Center is part of a bio-medical research cluster in Moscow that was key to Russian Pharma 2020, the government-industry partnership that outlined a way to update Russia’s pharmaceutical industry.
Torrey Pines Investment was formed in 2002. Savchuk has not disclosed how much was raised in the firm’s first fund or how many deals it has done, although he told VentureWire the second fund already is bigger than the firm’s first fund.