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Posted: Apr 06, 2011

Arrowhead Research Increases Ownership in Nanomedicine Company Ablaris

(Nanowerk News) Arrowhead Research Corporation, a nanomedicine company with development programs in oncology, obesity and regenerative medicine, today announced that majority-owned subsidiary Ablaris Therapeutics, Inc. has completed a second closing of its Series A financing round for gross proceeds of $1.2 million, with aggregate gross proceeds of $2.9 million to date. Arrowhead invested $1.3 million in the offering and holds a 64% stake in the obesity company post closing. Use of proceeds includes upfront licensing payments and expenses associated with preparation for a Phase I clinical trial, expected in the second half of 2011.
"The offering achieved our goal of securing outside capital for Ablaris' license and operations, and provides for incidental costs as we make our way to the clinic," said Arrowhead President and CEO Dr. Chris Anzalone. Direct costs for a Phase 1 clinical trial of Ablaris' first compound are expected to be borne by licensor MD Anderson Cancer Center.
"Preclinical studies of Ablaris' technology have demonstrated considerable promise as a novel way to treat the growing problem of obesity," continued Dr. Anzalone. "While much attention has been given to various anti-obesity therapeutic candidates, the FDA has not approved a new anti-obesity drug in over a decade, leaving a large underserved market in search of a safe and effective treatment. We believe Ablaris' unique technology that directly targets blood vessels feeding white fat tissue presents a significant advantage as we look to enter the clinic with Ablaris' first drug candidate later this year."
Arrowhead launched Ablaris in December 2010 to commercialize the innovative technology platform developed by Drs. Wadih Arap and Renata Pasqualini at MD Anderson Cancer Center for use in weight loss and obesity-related metabolic conditions.
Ablaris' technology is designed to specifically kill blood vessels feeding white fat tissue, and substantial data have been generated in rodents and three different species of non-human primates. This platform is broad and could lead to a large number of potential compounds, hence Ablaris is expected to have great flexibility in follow-on drug candidates. The compounds are administered via simple subcutaneous injection and have led to the destruction and absorption of fat, or adipose tissue, in study animals. Importantly, the primary mode of action is believed to be at the site of the fat tissue rather the central nervous system. Many obesity drug candidates have targeted the brain and, therefore, have had difficult regulatory paths due to the complexity of altering brain chemistry and off target effects. Data using Ablaris's lead candidate have already been reported in well-respected, peer-reviewed scientific journals and further publications are expected throughout 2011. Reports have shown significant and rapid reductions in body weight in the form of reduced body fat. For instance, published data include reports that obese study animals lost nearly one-third of their body weight after one month of treatment. Weight loss was due to a combination of destruction of fat and a decrease in appetite and resulting food intake. It is believed that the latter is caused by natural chemical interactions between the diminishing fat and the central nervous system rather than a direct action of the compound on the brain.
About Arrowhead Research Corporation
Arrowhead Research Corporation is a nanomedicine company developing innovative therapeutic products at the interface of biology and nanoengineering to cure disease and improve human health. Arrowhead addresses its target markets through focused subsidiaries, which include: Calando Pharmaceuticals, a leader in delivering small RNAs for gene silencing; Ablaris Therapeutics, an anti-obesity therapeutics company; and Nanotope, a regenerative medicine company. For more information please visit http://www.arrowheadresearch.com.
About Ablaris Therapeutics, Inc.
Ablaris Therapeutics, Inc. is developing and commercializing a new world-class suite of drug candidates to address obesity, a widespread and growing global epidemic. Using technology developed at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Ablaris' new pharmaceutical approach consists of a series of unique proprietary peptide conjugates that specifically target and kill the blood vessels that feed white fat tissue. Deprived of nutrition, the fat cells die and are broken down by the body. Independent animal studies have shown that the elimination of fat tissue using this method results in a decrease in appetite. Ablaris' first drug candidate is expected to enter the clinic this year. Ablaris is a majority-owned subsidiary of Arrowhead.
Source: Arrowhead Research (press release)
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