Healthcare Industry News:  SINGULAIR 

Biopharmaceuticals Venture Capital

 News Release - March 23, 2007

Amira Pharmaceuticals Raises $25 Million in Series B Financing

Financing Enables Company to Advance Multiple Drug Candidates Through Clinical Proof-of-Concept

SAN DIEGO, March 23 (HSMN NewsFeed) -- Amira Pharmaceuticals, a privately-held biopharmaceutical company focused on developing new drugs to treat inflammatory disease, today announced that it has raised $25 million in a private equity financing led by Novo A/S. Additional investors in the Series B round included Avalon Ventures, Prospect Venture Partners and Versant Ventures, all founding investors.

With the completion of this financing round, Amira has raised a total of $40 million since the company's inception two years ago.

The additional funding will enable the company to advance multiple drug candidates through clinical proof of concept, including AM103 to treat respiratory and cardiovascular conditions. An Investigational Medicinal Product Dossier (IMPD) for AM103 is expected to be filed in Europe within the next two months.

AM103 was discovered by the Amira team and has two back-up compounds in the final stages of preclinical development. The respiratory market alone for each of these compounds is estimated to be between USD 2-3 billion. Discussions are underway with several potential pharmaceutical partners.

Peppi Prasit, Ph.D., Chief Scientific Officer of Amira, said: "The new investment from Novo, alongside the valued support of our founding investors, will allow us to reach clinically meaningful results in several programs within a short period of time.

"We have already achieved a lot in terms of discovery -- now it's time for our development program to investigate the potential for these novel medicines, several of which have the potential to be best-in-class blockbuster treatments."

"We are very impressed with the successful track record and continued ability of the drug hunters at Amira," said Heath Lukatch, Ph.D., Novo Partner and new member of Amira's Board of Directors. "This is a team who was pivotal in the discovery of three major drugs while previously at Merck & Co (SINGULAIR®, Vioxx®, and Arcoxia®) and they have proved they can go beyond those discoveries to create the potentially significant medicines of the future. It is extraordinary to have achieved so much in two years and we appreciate the opportunity to support them at a crucial time in the company's development."

As a result of the financing, Heath Lukatch will join the Amira Board, alongside Bradley Bolzon of Versant Ventures, Kevin Kinsella of Avalon Ventures, James Tananbaum of Prospect Venture Partners and Peppi Prasit, a co-founder of Amira.

About Amira

Founded in 2005 and headquartered in San Diego, Amira Pharmaceuticals is a privately-held biopharmaceutical company, focused on inflammatory disease.

The founding team at Amira has over 100 combined years of experience in drug discovery, which includes the development of marketed drugs for a variety of indications. Its scientific founders have successfully worked together for over a decade.

In January 2006, Amira signed a collaboration with Roche covering a research alliance and an option for Amira to license two clinical-stage compounds from Roche.

Amira has raised $40 million to date from investors including Novo A/S (Copenhagen, Denmark), Avalon Ventures (San Diego, CA), Prospect Ventures (Palo Alto, CA) and Versant Ventures (Menlo Park, CA). For more information, visit

About Novo A/S

Novo A/S is the holding company of the Novo Group, and is wholly owned by the Novo Nordisk Foundation. Novo A/S was established in 1999 to manage the assets of the Foundation and actively make investments on behalf of the Foundation. Novo Ventures is recognized as a significant force within life science venture capital and is active in both Europe and North America. The Novo Ventures team consists of six Partners in Copenhagen, one in London and two in San Francisco.

With an evergreen structure, Novo A/S annually invests approximately $85 million in venture capital into private life sciences companies and acts at a pace comparable to a traditional $400 million fund. Novo A/S is not a corporate strategic fund; the group invests for financial rather than strategic returns. In total, Novo A/S has more than $8 billion under management, which includes significant shareholdings in the independently operating and publicly listed companies Novo Nordisk A/S and Novozymes A/S. For more information, visit

About Avalon Ventures

Avalon Ventures is a San Diego-based venture capital fund focusing on seed and early stage companies in the wireless technology and life science industries and primarily in San Diego and California. Our current Fund, Avalon Ventures VII, L.P. is $75 million.

Avalon Ventures is one of the longest-standing venture capital firms in San Diego, investing in life sciences and information technology opportunities locally and around the country since 1983 through seven Avalon Ventures funds. The collective market capitalization of Avalon Ventures portfolio companies (most founded by Avalon partners) currently exceeds $8 billion. For more information, visit

About Prospect Venture Partners

Prospect Venture Partners is a venture capital firm based in Palo Alto, California, with over $1 billion of capital under management. The firm is dedicated to investing in outstanding biomedical technology and life science companies. Prospect targets commercially attractive health care enterprises with outstanding entrepreneurial management teams, proprietary products, and innovative technology or services with potential for significant investment returns.

The firm invests in companies with a broad range of development and financing requirements including: (a) incubating new companies, (b) investing in first and second venture financing rounds, and (c) participating in later stage private and public companies with proven business models requiring expansion capital. For more information, visit

About Versant Ventures

Versant Ventures is a leading healthcare-focused venture capital firm, specializing in early-stage investments in medical devices, biotechnology and pharmaceuticals, healthcare services, and healthcare information technology. The firm, founded in 1999, consists of a seasoned team of eleven managing directors with more than 105 years of venture capital investing experience and more than 145 years of operating experience.

Versant Ventures currently manages over $1 billion in committed capital having recently raised its third fund in November 2005, and is currently managing over 65 companies in its portfolio. For more information, visit

Source: Amira Pharmaceuticals

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