Apellis Pharmaceuticals, Inc., recently announced that it has completed a $47.1 million Series D preferred stock financing, which will be used to advance clinical trials into the company’s complement immunotherapy programs for diseases that include idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
The complement system is part of the body’s immune system, and enhances the ability of antibodies and immune cells to eliminate pathogens and abnormal or defective cells. The system can be activated by three main pathways — the classical, lectin, and alternative pathway — and all three pathways converge on a molecule called C3, which plays a role in processes that include inflammation.
In conditions of excessive activation, the complement system can contribute to a wide range of autoimmune and inflammatory diseases by triggering an auto-immune response that can lead to the destruction of healthy tissues. Apellis Pharmaceuticals is developing product candidates able to inhibit C3 and, consequently, control disease.
“Our unique approach to broadly inhibit complement C3, the central protein in the complement cascade, is designed to significantly transform the treatments of patients with autoimmune and inflammatory diseases,” Dr. Cedric François, company founder and chief executive officer, said in a news release. “This financing allows us to advance our broad pipeline, resulting in up to three clinical programs by the end of 2016. We are excited to welcome three new investors to the Apellis team.”
The financing was co-led by new investors VenBio Global Strategic Fund, Cormorant Asset Management, and Hillhouse Capital Group, which joined existing investors Morningside Venture Investments, AJU IB Investment and Epidarex Capital. Two new members also joined the Apellis Board of Directors: Bihua Chen of Cormorant, and Dr. Robert Adelman of VenBio.
“Apellis’ approach to complement immunotherapy has the potential to correct the underlying immunological dysfunction that characterizes the Company’s target indications as well as many other chronic inflammatory conditions,” said Ms. Chen. “We are delighted to be part of this investment team and look forward to advancing Apellis’ unique complement C3 inhibition platform into multiple clinical programs.”
Other clinical trials planned by Apellis will investigate complement immunotherapy in paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria and geographic atrophy, an advanced form of dry type age-related macular degeneration.