Knopp Biosciences and Population Health Partners Create Areteia Therapeutics, New Clinical-Stage Asthma Company, with $350 Million in Funding
Areteia will initiate Phase 3 trials of lead candidate, dexpramipexole, a potential first-in-class oral drug for eosinophilic asthma, in late 2022
Investors led by Bain Capital Life Sciences to invest up to $350 million in Series A financing
Jorge Bartolome joins Areteia as CEO, bringing industry leadership experience in respiratory therapeutics
PITTSBURGH, PA & SHORT HILLS, NJ – July 12, 2022 – Areteia Therapeutics, Inc. (“Areteia”) today announces its launch as a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on putting asthma patients in better control of their disease – and back in control of their lives – with the first potential oral therapy for eosinophilic asthma. Areteia’s lead drug candidate is dexpramipexole, a first-in-class oral eosinophil maturation inhibitor.
Areteia was created by Population Health Partners and Knopp Biosciences. A syndicate of leading life sciences and strategic investors led by Bain Capital Life Sciences with participation from Access Biotechnology, GV, ARCH Venture Partners, Saturn Partners, Sanofi, Maverick Capital, and Population Health Partners, has committed to invest up to $350 million in Series A financing to establish Areteia and advance dexpramipexole through Phase 3 clinical trials, secure commercial supply, and pursue potential next-generation medicines. Knopp, which previously owned and conducted early-stage development of dexpramipexole, contributed the lead investigational drug and related assets to Areteia in connection with the transaction.
Jorge Bartolome, a seasoned biopharmaceutical executive with more than 25 years of industry experience, has been appointed Areteia’s Chief Executive Officer. Previously, Mr. Bartolome served as the President of Canada for the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson. Before that, he served as Senior Vice President of the US Respiratory Business Unit of GlaxoSmithKline plc, where he led a period of rapid expansion, including the commercialization and launch of an industry leading portfolio of asthma therapeutics.
“Asthma is a common disease with a high unmet need and significant impact on the health and lives of millions of patients around the world,” said Mr. Bartolome. He added, “I am excited to partner with an expert team of drug developers to advance the first-ever oral treatment for eosinophilic asthma on behalf of these patients.”
“The Founders and Board of Knopp Biosciences are delighted to see dexpramipexole move forward into Phase 3 development with a significant funding commitment led by Bain Capital Life Sciences, and in the experienced hands at Areteia and Population Health Partners,” said Michael Bozik, M.D., President, Biohaven Labs, and the former President and Chief Executive Officer of Knopp.
“Population Health Partners was founded to invest in innovation to tackle the biggest burdens of human disease – and asthma is high on our list of priorities,” said Clive Meanwell, M.D., Chairman and Managing Partner of Population Health Partners. “The world-class product development evidence generation team in our Validae Health unit will partner with Areteia to execute the development program and undertake lifecycle management with the highest levels of efficiency and quality.”
“We are excited to collaborate with a strong founding team that brings deep clinical and commercial experience focused on long-term fundamental drug development in areas of great unmet need, such as patients suffering from severe respiratory diseases like eosinophilic asthma,” stated Adam Koppel, M.D., PhD, Managing Director of Bain Capital Life Sciences. “We look forward to providing the resources and company creation support needed to enable Areteia to thoughtfully advance this innovative lead therapy while supporting the Company’s patient-centric mission.”
“It has become clear that lowering the blood eosinophil count results in important clinical benefits in patients with severe eosinophilic asthma,” added Ian Pavord, Professor of Respiratory Medicine at the University of Oxford. “Until now, we have only been able to do this with oral steroids or injected biologic treatments. The prospect of an orally active eosinophil lowering drug which is free of the adverse effects of oral steroids is compelling and the research community is going to join in this important quest enthusiastically.”
Cowen acted as exclusive placement agent for the Series A financing.
About Eosinophilic Asthma
Asthma disrupts the lives of more than a quarter of a billion people worldwide. More than half of asthma patients have eosinophilic asthma, which is driven by an oversupply of eosinophils, a type of white blood cell, in blood and tissue. By inhibiting the maturation of eosinophils, oral dexpramipexole acts in a way similar to injectable anti-IL-5 biologic therapies. The asthma biologic market is experiencing growth of 10% per year and is valued at around $8 billion, with IL-5 biologic therapies representing approximately $3 billion of that figure. If approved as a first-to-market oral, dexpramipexole could provide a compelling alternative to injectable biologics, and could potentially be used earlier in the asthma treatment paradigm to prevent progression of disease.
Dexpramipexole is an oral small molecule in phase 3 development for eosinophilic asthma. Dexpramipexole inhibits the maturation and release of eosinophils in bone marrow, based on evidence from cell cultures and human biopsies, thereby lowering peripheral blood eosinophil levels. Most recently in a Phase 2 study in patients with moderate-to-severe eosinophilic asthma, treatment with dexpramipexole resulted in a significant, dose-dependent reduction in blood absolute eosinophil count at all doses tested (daily dexpramipexole doses of 37.5 mg, 75 mg, or 150 mg twice daily) compared to placebo. Dexpramipexole was well tolerated in the trial, with adverse events balanced across treatment and placebo groups, no serious adverse events, and no adverse events leading to discontinuation.
About Areteia Therapeutics
Areteia Therapeutics (areteiatx.com) is a clinical stage biotechnology company committed to putting asthma patients in better control of their disease and lives by developing the first potential oral drug for eosinophilic asthma. Areteia will conduct late-stage development including Phase 3 clinical trials of dexpramipexole in partnership with Population Health Partners’ development unit, Validae Health. Areteia will be led by Chief Executive Officer, Jorge Bartolome, with a Board of Directors including Michael Bozik, M.D., President, Biohaven Labs, and the former President and Chief Executive Officer of Knopp; Adam Koppel, M.D., PH.D., Managing Director of Bain Capital Life Sciences; Ian Read, Partner at Population Health Partners and the former Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Pfizer; and Paul Berns, Managing Director at Arch Ventures.
About Knopp Biosciences LLC
Knopp Biosciences is a privately held drug biotechnology company with a 20-year record of drug discovery and development in challenging immunological and neurological diseases. Knopp’s clinical-stage oral small molecule, dexpramipexole, is being developed by Areteia Therapeutics, a subsidiary of Knopp, and is entering Phase 3 development in eosinophilic asthma. Knopp’s preclinical Kv7 platform, directed to innovative, small-molecule treatments for epilepsy and other hyperexcitability disorders, has been acquired and is being advanced by Biohaven Pharmaceuticals. Please visit www.knoppbio.com.
About Population Health Partners, L.P.
Population Health Partners, L.P. is a private equity firm committed to building great companies around important late-stage therapeutics, and generating superior returns for our investing partners by solving the health and economic challenges presented by prevalent diseases. Population Health Partners employs a team of expert drug developers in a unit called Validae Health, focused on generating late-stage clinical evidence at industry-leading levels of efficiency. While at The Medicines Company, leaders from Population Health Partners secured eight drug approvals involving 21 clinical trials and 91,000 randomized patients and were ranked #1 in the CNBC RQ 50 for biopharmaceutical R&D productivity. Please visit www.populationhp.com
About Bain Capital Life Sciences
Bain Capital Life Sciences (www.baincapitallifesciences.com) invests in pharmaceutical, biotechnology, medical device, diagnostic, and life science tool companies across the globe, with a focus on companies that both drive medical innovation across the value chain and enable that innovation to improve the lives of patients with unmet medical needs. The differentiated skillset of Bain Capital Life Sciences team enables it to deliver targeted capital land value-added strategic support to companies around critical phases of growth and inflections in value. Since 1984, Bain Capital has employed a strategic and analytical approach to identify attractive investment opportunities and partner with management teams to transform and improve their businesses. During this time, Bain Capital has developed global reach, deep expertise, and a proven track record in the life sciences industries across private equity, public equity, credit, venture capital, and real estate.