Cydan Development, an orphan drug accelerator dedicated to creating therapies that improves the lives of people living with rare genetic diseases, has launched Imara. This is the second orphan drug company launched by Cydan since 2015. Imara will develop IMR-687, a disease-modifying therapeutic selected specifically for the treatment of sickle cell disease and other hemoglobinopathies. IMR-687 was discovered by H. Lundbeck.
Lundbeck granted Imara an exclusive worldwide license and will receive certain milestone payments and royalties on sales as well as minority ownership in Imara. Imara is responsible for all future development and commercialization costs for IMR-687. Additional financial terms were not disclosed.
Cydan and Imara raised $31M in a Series A round to launch Imara with investment from Cydan’s syndicate of leading life sciences investors, New Enterprise Associates, Pfizer Venture Investments, Lundbeckfond Ventures, Bay City Capital and Alexandria Venture Investments. Imara also announced plans to file an Investigational New Drug (IND) application with the FDA to develop IMR-687 for sickle cell disease in 2016.
“Following a dynamic scientific collaboration with Lundbeck’s R&D team, we are advancing IMR-687—a drug identified and developed to reduce the pathology caused by sickle cell disease,” said James McArthur, Ph.D., chief executive officer of Imara and co-founder and chief scientific officer of Cydan. “Our team over the last year has produced preclinical data that demonstrates that IMR-687 is a very promising therapeutic approach for the treatment of sickle disease.”
IMR-687 is an orally-administered, highly potent and selective phosphodiesterase 9 (PDE9) inhibitor developed to treat the underlying causes of the pathology of sickle cell disease, a condition characterized by sickling of red blood cells and the occlusion or blockage of small blood vessels by the rigid, sickle-shaped red blood cells. Preclinical data shows IMR-687 reduces both the sickling of red blood cells and blood vessel occlusion. IMR-687 also demonstrates a robust pre-clinical safety profile.
"We are pleased to ensure the development of a potentially effective medicine which may help severely ill patients who have no treatment options today. It fits perfectly with our new strategy and focus on four disease areas that we divest this compound. The agreement is also a testament to the value of the research and development work done at Lundbeck every day with the aim of improving patient's lives through the development of new and better treatments. The outcome of this program speaks to the collaborative relationship we had with Cydan Development," said Kim Andersen, senior vice president, Research, Lundbeck.