Sopherion Fights Diseases with $26M

As if taking on cancer wasn’t enough, Sopherion Therapeutics Inc. is also readying to battle asthma, allergies and osteoporosis.

TL Ventures, along with a slew of other VCs, are cheering on the New Haven, Conn.-based company on by contributing $26 million to its Series A round of financing. TL Ventures led the deal, while HealthCap KB, ProQuest Investments, Johnson & Johnson Development Corp., Intersouth Partners, Seaflower Ventures, Connecticut Innovations Incorp., and GE Life Science and Technology Finance also participated.

The biotech company, which will be leveraging its proprietary technology platforms to design, develop and commercialize targeted pharmaceutical therapies, will use the capital to advance its therapies and enhance its product pipeline and drug design initiatives. Additionally, Sopherion is building out its management team, pursuing partnerships and moving into new office space in New Haven. It has 12 employees, but expects to have about 30 by the end of the year.

“This company is unusual because it has strong people, propriety technology and products,” says Ronald Goldfarb, president and CEO of Sopherion, which received a post-money valuation of approximately $35 million. “Sopherion was a collaboration between Scheer & Company, the Children’s Hospital in Boston and Dr. Samy Ashkar. It has everything it needs to succeed.”

Scheer & Co. is a life science advisory firm. Ashkar developed the therapies at the Children’s Hospital in 2001. The company was just recently spun out of the hospital.

Sopherion has about 12 therapy candidates in the pipeline and two anti-cancer therapies almost ready for clinical trials. “It could be five to 10 years before we have a potential therapy. We are certainly committed to advancing our therapies, but we want to do it carefully and we want to make sure we are thorough,” Goldfarb says.

What Goldfarb claims makes Sopherion unique is its potential ability to bypass healthy cells, specifically and selectively targeting disease sites. “That’s one of the best things about our therapies. We will be able to target a tumor – go right after the disease and leave the healthy cells alone so there is limited collateral damage. The bottom line is this company could have a big impact and we will give it our best shot,” Goldfarb says.

While Goldfarb would not say how much more venture capital Sopherion would need or when it would need it, he did say the time for more venture money would definitely come. “We are pursuing ours goals and when we get to the right point we will look for more venture money. We want to do it when the environment is better,” says Goldfarb, who adds: “Profits and revenue are dependant on how successful we are. We are optimistic that will have some insight into that soon. But at this point we have every confidence this company will go forward and be a success. We have chance of being a free standing company.”

David Scheer, chairman of the company’s board of directors and president of Scheer, also expects Sopherion to be a public company one day. “We’ve built a model for a public company and I think that will happen, but I could also see a franchise integrating us. I can’t predict the future, but at the end of the day I really think we will have built a great company.”

Email Danielle Fugazy