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PharmAkea, Celgene, Bay City Capital collaborate

Monday, October 7, 2013

PharmAkea Therapeutics, a privately-held San Diego, Calif.-based biopharmaceutical company, and Bay City Capital, a life sciences venture capital firm, are collaborating with Celgene to leverage PharmAkea’s proprietary drug discovery platform to generate and advance novel small-molecule therapies targeting cancer and fibrotic diseases.

Celgene will commit $35 million to PharmAkea during an initial three-year alliance term, with an option to extend the collaboration with additional funding. Bay City Capital has invested $10 million in a Series A equity financing. In addition, Celgene will also take an equity stake in PharmAkea and will retain an exclusive option to acquire the company. PharmAkea was founded in 2012 with seed funding from Celgene, which was used to secure the initial scientific team, initiate operations and commence identification of clinical candidates against selected targets.

PharmAkea was co-founded by three early-drug developers, John Hutchinson, Ph.D., Jilly Evans, Ph.D., and Kevin Holme, Ph.D., who previously worked together at Amira Pharmaceuticals, which was sold to Bristol-Myers Squibb. Joining PharmAkea as CEO will be Robert F. Williamson, III. Williamson held key management and leadership positions at venture backed and public life science companies, and was previously a partner with The Boston Consulting Group.

Merv Turner, former chief strategy officer of Merck and an advisor to Bay City Capital, will be joining PharmAkea’s board along with Tom Daniel, Carl Goldfischer and Rob Williamson.

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