CAMBRIDGE, Mass.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Imara Inc., a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on sickle cell disease (SCD) and other hemoglobinopathies, today announced the closing of an oversubscribed $63 million Series B cross-over financing. The fundraise was co-led by new investors OrbiMed Advisors and Arix Bioscience plc and included investment from RA Capital and Rock Springs Capital. Existing investors New Enterprise Associates, Pfizer Venture Investments, Lundbeckfonden Ventures, Bay City Capital, and Alexandria Venture Investments also participated. Proceeds from the investment will be used to advance the company’s lead program with IMR-687, currently in a multi-national Phase 2a clinical trial, into later-stage clinical trials, fund development of IMR-687 as a potential treatment for thalassemia, and expand the company’s pipeline.
“This is a transformative financing for Imara – one that will allow us to greatly expand our sickle cell disease clinical development, widen our reach into thalassemia, and build an exciting pipeline,” said Rahul D. Ballal, Ph.D., Chief Executive Officer of Imara. “We are pleased to be working with leading investors who share our vision for creating a company that helps change the lives of patients living with SCD and other hemoglobinopathies. We look forward to our upcoming clinical data analyses, engaging our clinical investigators, and working closely with the SCD community to make a positive impact in this challenging disease.”
“Imara’s clinical candidate for sickle cell disease could represent a significant step forward in a treatment paradigm that’s been languishing for decades,” said David Bonita, M.D., Partner at OrbiMed Advisors. “By working on both the white-cell and red-cell aspects of the disease, we believe IMR-687 is poised to bring needed advancements to patients with SCD. We are pleased to invest in Imara and support expansion to new disease areas and pipeline efforts.”
Mark Chin, Investment Director at Arix Bioscience continued by saying, “Rahul and the growing executive team have impressed us with their focus on meaningful clinical development and deep engagement with the SCD community. This financing is an important milestone for Imara as it seeks to progress its treatments to patients. We are looking forward to working with the management team to build a leading company in the hemoglobinopathy space.”
Joining Imara’s board of directors in connection with the financing are: David Bonita M.D., a Partner at OrbiMed and Arix Bioscience’s Investment Director Mark Chin. John Cassidy, Ph.D., Investment Associate at Arix Bioscience and Matthew Hammond, Ph.D., Principal at RA Capital, will join as observers.
About Sickle Cell Disease
Sickle cell disease is a rare, genetically inherited condition that alters hemoglobin, the protein in red blood cells that transports oxygen throughout the body. The altered hemoglobin distorts red blood cells into a sickle, or crescent, shape. Painful episodes can occur when sickled red blood cells, which are stiff and inflexible, get stuck in small blood vessels. These episodes deprive tissues and organs of oxygen-rich blood and can lead to vaso-occlusive crisis (VOC), acute chest syndrome (ACS), and permanent damage to organs including the liver, spleen, kidney, and brain.
IMR-687 was designed to address the underlying pathology of sickle cell disease. An orally-administered, highly-potent and selective phosphodiesterase 9 (PDE9) inhibitor, IMR-687 is a potentially disease-modifying therapeutic for sickle cell disease as well as other hemoglobinopathies. Pre-clinical data demonstrate IMR-687 reduces both the sickling of red blood cells and blood vessel occlusion that cause debilitating pain, organ damage, and early mortality in affected patients. A Phase 1 clinical trial in healthy volunteers showed IMR-687 to be safe and well-tolerated. IMR-687 has been granted both U.S. Orphan Drug Designation and U.S. Rare Pediatric Designation by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Imara Inc. is dedicated to developing novel therapeutics for patients with sickle cell disease and other hemoglobinopathies. Imara is currently developing IMR-687, a highly selective, potent small molecule inhibitor of PDE9, to treat patients with sickle cell disease. IMR-687 was specifically designed to treat patients with sickle cell disease by both reducing red blood cell sickling and blockage of blood vessels that are underlying causes of the pathology of sickle cell disease. IMR-687 successfully completed a Phase 1 study in healthy volunteers and is currently being evaluated in a multi-national Phase 2a study in adult patients with sickle cell disease.