Rejuvenon Corp., a Texas-based drug developer, last week secured $37 million in Series B funding commitments. Schroder Ventures Life Sciences led the round, which is tranched out so that Rejuvenon gets about half now and the rest when it achieves certain performance milestones.
Other new investors include Boston Millennia Partners, Cogene BioTech Ventures, OrbiMed Advisors and Prospect Venture Partners, while return backers included Burrill & Co., BCM Technologies and Novo Nordisk. Lutz Giebel, a venture partner with Schroder Ventures Life Sciences, Robert Mashal of Boston Millennia, and Carl Gordon all joined the Rejuvenon board. Giebel says that Rejuvenon does not expect to need another large round of VC funding, and that a more likely scenario – so long as clinical tests are successful – involves a small mezzanine round followed by some sort of liquidity event.
The company was founded in March 2000 to develop and commercialize therapeutic products focused on debilitating disorders of aging. Investors Burrill and BCM (an affiliate of the Baylor College of Medicine) signed on for a $12 million Series A deal.
Shortly after that financing, however, new medical research began to show that a protein called ghrelin could increase appetite in humans. It also was shown to increase lean body mass among animals that were suffering from significant, and involuntary, weight loss. The findings intrigued Rejuvenon. The result was a strategic shift away from anti-aging and toward cochexia, a “wasting” disorder affecting many sufferers of cancer, AIDS, pulmonary disease and cardiac disease.
“We simply do not have the same focus today that we had when the Series A [round] was raised,” says CEO Peter Policastro.