Afferent Pharmaceuticals raises $55 million to develop cough and pain killer

Afferent Pharmaceuticals completed a $55m Series C financing. The round was led by Fidelity Management & Research Company, with participation from other crossover funds. The company was founded by the biotech foundry Third Rock Ventures in December 2009.

Dr. Anthony Ford, the founder and chief scientific officer of Afferent, was previously a scientist at Roche Bioscience. About 15 years ago, Ford found that the ATP receptor P2X3 is critical for peripheral pain responses[1]. P2X3 knock-out mice have reduced pain-related behavior in response to injection of ATP.

Abbott Laboratories reported a non-nucleotide antagonist of P2X3 receptor called A-317491 in 2002[2]. At that time Ford led the P2X3 discovery program at Roche. Afferent in-licensed the P2X3 program form Roche.

Afferent is developing its lead candidate, AF-219, for the treatment of cough and bladder pain. Results from a proof-of-concept study in chronic cough patients have been published in The Lancet[3]. The drug reduced cough frequency by 75% compared to placebo.

Kathleen Glaub joined the company as CEO in August 2014. She was one of the Top 10 Women in Biotech[4] in 2011 when her company Plexxikon was sold to Daiichi Sankyo in a $935 million deal. Plexxikon’s Zelboraf (vemurafenib) gained an FDA green light for treating melanoma that year.

[1] Nature. 2000, 407(6807), 1011-1015.
[2] Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 2002, 99(26), 17179-17184.
[3] Lancet. 2015, 385(9974), 1198-1205.


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