Promentis’s $2.9M Series B Round to Fund Human Trials

Promentis Pharmaceuticals intends to move its novel compounds for treating central nervous system disorders into the human testing phase, thanks to a $2.9 million Series B round of financing just closed by the Milwaukee pharmaceutical startup.

Promentis, founded in 2007, is developing molecules to modify brain chemistry to treat schizophrenia, Parkinson’s disease, autism, and other disorders.

The Series B money allows it to hire staff—it grew from four to five employees this week—and move forward with securing approval from the FDA to advance two compounds into human clinical testing some time in the next two years, said Promentis president and CEO Chad Beyer.

The funding round was led by Black Horse Investments, which is based in Düsseldorf, Germany, and headed by Promentis board member Patrick Schwarz-Schuette. Black Horse contributed $2 million to the round. The rest was from private investors and Golden Angels Investors, a Milwaukee-area group that led Promentis’ $1.94 million Series A round in 2010.

Promentis has secured another $2.6 million in grants and loans, Beyer said.

“The Series B round really gives us the bandwidth to take the science from the pre-clinical world into the clinic,” Beyer said in a phone interview. “That’s an exciting point for our company, to be able to take the science and see if there’s a real value to patients.”

Promentis compounds have shown promise in balancing levels of the neurotransmitter glutamate and preventing oxidative damage to brain cells, two key problems in central nervous system disorders, Beyer said.

Promentis’ technology was licensed from Marquette University and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. The company has also designed and synthesized its own proprietary molecules.

Promentis was co-founded by David Baker and John Mantsch, two biomedical sciences associate professors at Marquette. Baker serves on Promentis’ board of directors and chairs its scientific advisory board. Mantsch remains a paid consultant, Beyer said.

The board includes three prominent executives from the former Schwarz Pharma: Schwarz-Schuette, Klaus Veitinger, and Daniel Lawton, Promentis’ CEO before Beyer took the helm last year. Schwarz Pharma was a German-based company that had U.S. headquarters in Mequon, WI, north of Milwaukee. UCB of Belgium acquired Schwarz Pharma in a $6 billion deal in 2006.

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