|Scleroderma Drug In Development|
|Friday, 16 October 2009 10:27|
According to The Commercial Appeal, arGentis Pharmaceutical has partnered with Shattuck Hammond Partners, the health care investment arm of Morgan Keegan and Co. Inc., to jump-start a capital campaign to raise $12 million to $15 million. ArGentis shelved the campaign last year when the economy soured.
The money will help continue a three-year effort by arGentis to shepherd a treatment for Scleroderma, an autoimmune disease that affects blood vessels and connective tissue. Ted Townsend, the company's vice president of business development, said the treatment could be on the market as early as 2013.
The company has just finished reviewing the treatment's previous clinical trial. The next trial will be the drug's last before it heads to the Food and Drug Administration for market approval. To help that process along, arGentis has assembled a "dream team" to serve on its scientific advisory board.
For example, new board member Maureen D. Mayes wrote "The Scleroderma Book" in 1999. University of California Los Angeles professor Daniel Furst, Georgetown School of Medicine professor Virginia D. Steen and UCLA biostatistics professor Weng Kee Wong also joined the arGentis scientific advisory board.
"These physicians understand this disease process better than anyone in the world," said Townsend. "Their participation in the trial shows the validity of our therapy and will hopefully reinforce our credibility to regulatory authorities."
However, Charles Spaulding, vice president of communications with the Scleroderma Research Foundation, said the disease largely flies under national research radar.
"There's not enough researchers looking at the disease and not enough money being spent on Scleroderma research," Spaulding said.
ArGentis' Scleroderma treatment received "orphan status" in the United States and in the European Union. The designation gives the company market exclusivity for seven years here and 10 years in Europe.
Townsend said the treatment could be a $1 billion annual opportunity in the U.S. and Europe.
The company also has license agreements in hand for about 50 markets globally.
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