Local News

Triangle-Based Pharmaceutical Startup Lands $14M In Financing

Posted August 16, 2006 3:50 a.m. EDT

— Cempra Pharmaceuticals

, which launched as a company in January, is off to a fast financial start, having closed on $14 million in venture financing.

Intersouth Partners and I. Wistar Morris III, an investment banker, co-lead the round.

The company had already raised an unspecified amount of financing from angel investors.

Cempra is focused on developing drugs that can tackle bacteria that have developed resistance to antibiotics.

As part of the deal, Intersouth's Garheng Kong and Morris will join Cempra's board of directors.

The company has proprietary chemistry technology related to macrolides, which are antibiotics that fight a wide range of bacterial infections. The firm's founders have backgrounds in discovering and developing anti-infective treatments.

Cempra has already licensed a pipeline of macrolides and ketolides, which are effective against macrolide-resistant bacteria, from Optimer Pharmaceuticals in San Diego, CA. According to the company it has a number of compounds at various stages of development.

The global market for anti-infective drugs is estimated to be greater than $30 billion, according to Cempra.

"We believe that Cempra is positioned to make significant breakthroughs in macrolides that will serve thousands of patients every year," Kong said in a statement. "The company's proprietary chemistry platform will enable a series of macrolides previously unavailable. We're excited to be working with Cempra to develop this important class of drugs."

Cempra is led by Prabhavathi Fernandes, who has more than 25 years of experience related to drug discovery and development at such pharmaceutical firms as Squibb and Abbott. She also has served as chief executive officer at DarPharma, Ricera Biosciences and Small Molecule Therapeutics. Fernandes founded Small Molecule Therapeutics and was involved in discovery of three potential drug compounds.

Campra also has a scientific advisory board of eight members, all of whom have extensive backgrounds in pharmaceuticals.

"We are very pleased to have this funding as we add to our experienced team and work towards developing the products that will help address the global threat of antibiotic resistance," said Fernandes in a statement. "With the support of our financial partners, the Cempra team is eager to build a portfolio of anti-infective agents."