Elevation Pharma Pulls in $17M to Advance Lung Drug Trial

Xconomy San Diego — 

San Diego-based Elevation Pharmaceuticals made headlines when it raised $30 million in January 2010, but it actually needed to hit some clinical goals to get all the money. Now it has hit one of those goals, and has earned the right to push further with a new aerosol drug for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Elevation is announcing today it has received a $17 million tranche of its earlier Series A financing, which it will use to pay for an ongoing mid-stage study of its experimental drug EP-101. The company is also disclosing some of its prior clinical results at the European Respiratory Society meeting this weekend in Amsterdam, and the hiring of two new senior executives—Jaisim Shah as chief business officer and Pravin Soni as chief technical officer.

Elevation’s lead drug candidate, as my colleague Bruce Bigelow described in January 2010, is a long-acting molecule that is supposed to open up tightened airways in the lungs. It is intended for patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), an umbrella term for emphysema and chronic bronchitis, which is often caused by smoking. COPD is currently the fourth-leading cause of death in the U.S., meaning that there’s a lot of market potential for effective new treatments for this chronic disease. Canaan Partners, TPG Growth, Care Capital, and Mesa Verde Venture Partners are the company’s backers, and the management team is led by chairman Cam Garner and CEO Bill Gerhart.

The Elevation drug an inhalable formulation of glycopyrrolate, a long-lasting muscarinic antagonist (LAMA) that patients take through a nebulizer. The drug was tested in 42 patients with moderate to severe COPD who were randomly assigned to get a single dose of the new drug or a placebo. All the doses tested helped patients improve their breathing within five minutes, Elevation said in a statement. The next trial will look at giving the drug to patients for seven days.

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