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Drug discovery company Novira Therapeutics adds $23m from Canaan Partners, 5AM Ventures

24 Aug 2012

Antiviral drug discovery company Novira Therapeutics has secured $23m in Series A financing to support the development of its capsid-targeting antivirals for the treatment of chronic hepatitis B (HBV) and HIV infections.

The financing was co-led by early-stage venture capital firm 5AM Ventures and healthcare investor Canaan Partners and joined by Chinese R&D outsourcing company WuXi PharmaTech as well as existing investors BioAdvance, Mid-Atlantic Angel Group, Robin Hood Ventures and Delaware Crossing Investment Group (DCIG).

In conjunction with the financing, Scott Rocklage PhD, a managing partner with 5AM Ventures, has been appointed chairman of Novira’s board of directors. In addition, Tim Shannon, MD, venture partner at Canaan Partners, has joined the board.

“While many advances have been made in the treatment of chronic HBV and HIV infections, therapy for these diseases is still plagued by certain limitations, including the absence of a true cure for chronic infection with HBV and the development of drug resistance during chronic infection with HIV, leading to a need for antivirals with a new mechanism of action,” said Dr Rocklage. “We were drawn to Novira’s novel approach, which holds much promise for treating these viral diseases with oral drugs that can potentially work either as a monotherapy or in combination with the current standard of care, as well as the company’s strong management team, which has extensive expertise in pharmaceutical drug discovery.”

With $3.5bn under management, Canaan has funded healthcare companies such as Advanced BioHealing, Advance PCS, BiPar Sciences, Calixa Therapeutics, Cerexa Pharmaceuticals, and Peninsula Pharmaceuticals. Current healthcare investments include Liquidia Technologies, Theraclone Sciences, Durata, Civitas Therapeutics, Elevation Pharmaceuticals and DICOM Grid.

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