Laguna Pharmaceuticals Completes $30 Million Series B Financing, Appoints Industry Veteran Bob Baltera as CEO

Versant Ventures, Frazier Healthcare and BioMed Ventures join existing investor Sante Ventures in Series B financing round

LA JOLLA, Calif., Feb. 17, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Laguna Pharmaceuticals, previously known as ChanRx, announced today the completion of a $30 million Series B financing and the appointment of Bob Baltera as chief executive officer. Versant Ventures and Frazier Healthcare led the round, joined by BioMed Ventures and Series A investor Sante Ventures.

Laguna Pharmaceuticals plans to use the proceeds to progress Phase 3 clinical development of its lead compound, vanoxerine, a therapeutic drug candidate for the treatment of atrial fibrillation (AF) and atrial flutter (AFL). AF is the most common cardiac arrhythmia today and its prevalence is expected to double by 2040. Vanoxerine has the potential to become a leading pharmaceutical option to rapidly terminate AF in both hospital and home settings. In a Phase 2b study, a 400 mg dose of vanoxerine had efficacy levels nearing those of the leading intervention - electrical shock treatment known as direct current cardioversion.

"I see this as a great opportunity given the tremendous but unrecognized value of Laguna's assets," said Baltera. "I will be joining a stellar management team led by our co-founder and chief medical officer, Howard Dittrich, who has brought tremendous advances forward in his work at NovaCardia and other cardiovascular companies. With the support of our investors, we are ready to move this therapy into Phase 3 studies to explore full potential of vanoxerine in patients suffering from atrial fibrillation."

Baltera was previously chief executive officer of Amira Pharmaceuticals until its $475 million acquisition by Bristol-Myers Squibb in 2011. In this capacity, he was instrumental in focusing Amira's development efforts, strengthening its pipeline and forging key collaborations with partners such as GlaxoSmithKline. Previously, Baltera held a number of senior management positions over 17 years at Amgen. Baltera serves on the board of directors for several companies and the San Diego Venture Group and is a member of the board of trustees of the Keck Graduate Institute. Baltera has an M.B.A. from the Anderson School at UCLA and earned his B.S. in microbiology and a M.S. in genetics from The Pennsylvania State University.

In conjunction with the financing, Jerel Davis, Ph.D., from Versant Ventures and Jamie Topper, M.D., Ph.D., from Frazier Healthcare will join Laguna Pharmaceuticals' board of directors. Laguna Pharmaceuticals will also relocate from Cleveland, Ohio, to La Jolla, California.

"We see distinctive promise for vanoxerine to help address the significant unmet need in atrial fibrillation," said Davis. "We look forward to working with this proven management team, as well as Jamie Topper and the teams at Frazier, BioMed Ventures and Santé, to rapidly progress one of the most clinically advanced pharmaceutical agents for AF."

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