A Novel Business Approach and New Technology Bring Funds To Two Companies

By Mitchell Young

NEW HAVEN: Biohaven, a privately held Hew Haven-based “pharmaceutical holding company,” has secured $80 million in new funding. Biohaven has created a diverse portfolio of potential drugs and drug platforms through investments and licensing. 

The company has licensing and drug development agreements with Yale University, Massachusetts General Hospital and Rutgers University, among others.

The company says its role is to apply its “expertise in late stage clinical development” to bring drug development forward.

Vlad Coric

Vlad Coric, M.D., CEO of Biohaven is marshalling funds and new drug candidates to company.

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Yale researcher and Kleo CEO found a local partner to help push his “novel” technology forward.

The FDA gave the company the Orphan Drug status this summer and the authority to begin a clinical trial for a drug to treat Spinocerebellar Ataxia [SCA], a rare, debilitating neurodegenerative disorder that is estimated to affect approximately 150,000 people in the United States. 

Vlad Coric, M.D., CEO of Biohaven, explained why the FDA moved forward with the designation and trial plan, “our clinical development program in Spinocerebellar Ataxia is particularly important because there are no currently approved drugs for this neurological disorder.”

The Orphan Drug designation is granted for drugs that can treat, prevent or diagnose diseases for fewer than 200,000 people in the U.S. Drugs granted that status, if eventually approved, receive an extended marketing exclusivity.

The financing was led by the venture capital firms Venrock, RA Capital Management, Vivo Capital, Aisling Capital, Rock Springs Capital, John W. Childs, Knoll Capital Management, Osage University Partners, Aperture Venture Partners, Connecticut Innovations, Greg Bailey and Litmore Capital, and two undisclosed “blue chip” pharmaceutical companies. Biohaven’s announcement said the offering was “oversubscribed.”

An investment by Biohaven in September in another New Haven biotech is likely one reason that investors were attracted. Biohaven provided an undisclosed amount of Series A financing to Kleo Pharmaceuticals.

Kleo’s CEO and Co-founder, David Spiegel, is Professor of Chemistry and Pharmacology at Yale University where he heads the Spiegel Research Group and has received wide acclaim and awards for his lab’s research.  While Spiegel co-founded Kleo, he was only appointed CEO in September in connection with the financing.

Biohaven’s investment in Kleo will help the company develop its “novel” Antibody Recruiting Molecules (ARMs) and Synthetic Antibody Recruiting Molecules (SyAMs). Both drug platforms are considered by the company to be able to create entirely new drug types.

The company plans to develop ARMs and SyAMs to treat cancer and infectious diseases.  

Spiegel explained the role he hopes his technology will take, saying, “Biologics have been the gold standard for immunotherapies. With ARMs and SyAMs, we have the opportunity to raise that bar. Our molecules are hundreds of times lighter than their biological counterparts and thus may infiltrate tissue more efficiently than large proteins.”

Of the investment by Biohaven he said, “Combining our expertise in ARMs and SyAMs with Biohaven’s investment and development expertise represents an ideal collaboration.”