Ventures West Capital leads strong cross-border syndicate
VANCOUVER, June 12 /CNW/ - Aquinox Pharmaceuticals Inc., a
Vancouver-based privately-held pharmaceutical company developing targeted
small molecule therapeutics for the treatment of cancer and inflammatory
disease, has raised US$14.5 million in a Series A venture capital financing.
The financing was led by Ventures West Capital Ltd. and included new
investors, Johnson & Johnson Development Corporation (JJDC) and Baker Brothers
Investments. Existing investor, BC Advantage Funds, managed by Lions Capital
Corp., also participated in the financing.
Aquinox was incorporated in 2004 as a spin-off company from the
University of British Columbia and the BC Cancer Agency, and based on the
research of four founding scientists: Dr. Raymond Andersen, Dr. Gerald
Krystal, Dr. Alice Mui and Dr. Christopher Ong. The scientific founders
discovered highly selective drugs that target a unique and patented
biochemical enzyme called "SHIP" (SH2-containing inositol phosphatase) which
regulates the PI3 kinase (PI3K) pathway. The PI3K pathway is essential in
regulating cell growth, survival and immune cell activation, and is one of the
most studied pathways for the development of new therapeutic agents. SHIP is
unique in that it exclusively regulates blood cells and can be harnessed in
the treatment of disorders such as multiple myeloma, leukemia, lymphoma,
inflammation, allergy and autoimmune diseases while having no, or minimal,
effect on non-blood tissues.
"The activation or inhibition of SHIP and similar enzymes can support a
rich pipeline of potential therapeutic programs in the areas of cancer,
autoimmune, inflammatory and allergic diseases," said David J. Main, Chairman,
President and CEO of Aquinox Pharmaceuticals Inc. "This significant financing
from a strong cross-border syndicate will allow us to advance the development
of our lead product candidate into clinical studies in 2008 for an oncology
indication while advancing another pre-clinical drug candidate in the area of
Concurrently with the Series A financing, Mr. Chris Laird, Vice President
at Ventures West and Dr. Asish Xavier, Principal at JJDC, will join existing
independent directors, Dr. Kevin Leslie and Mr. Kenneth Galbraith on the Board
of Directors of Aquinox.
"Aquinox has assembled a world-class scientific and management team,"
commented Chris Laird. "It has established a strong intellectual property
position covering SHIP, closely related enzymes and a number of drug
candidates that they are advancing through further development. They are
poised to become a leader in this field."
About Aquinox Pharmaceuticals
Formed in 2004, Aquinox Pharmaceuticals Inc. is a privately-held
pharmaceutical company developing targeted small molecule therapeutics for the
treatment of cancer and inflammatory disease. The Company has a strong
intellectual property portfolio and library of pre-clinical drug candidates
that target a unique biochemical enzyme called "SHIP" (SH2-containing inositol
phosphatase) which regulates the PI3 kinase (PI3K) pathway. The Company is
based on the research of its four key scientific founders from the University
of British Columbia and the BC Cancer Agency in Vancouver. For more
information, visit http://www.aqxpharma.com.
About Ventures West
Ventures West Capital Ltd., a private venture capital investment group,
is one of Canada's leading investors in early stage technology companies.
Since its founding in 1968, Ventures West has formed eight venture capital
funds which total over $700 million and has invested in more than 150
companies. Ventures West has the people, the expertise, and the capital to
help entrepreneurs develop emerging technology companies into market leaders.
For more information, visit http://www.ventureswest.com.
About Johnson & Johnson Development Corporation
Organized in 1973, Johnson & Johnson Development Corporation (JJDC) is
the venture capital subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson. JJDC makes private equity
investments in venture funded healthcare companies. Portfolio investments
include those in the field of pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, medical devices,
diagnostics and consumer products. For more information, visit
About Baker Brothers Investments
Managed by Mr. Julian Baker and Dr. Felix Baker, Baker Brothers
Investments is a family of long-term investment funds for major university
endowments and foundations which are focused on publicly-traded and
privately-held life science companies.
About Lions Capital Corp.
As fund manager of BC Advantage Funds (VCC) Ltd. and the Lions Liquidity
Investment Fund I LP, Lions Capital currently manages more than $ 50 million
of investment capital. Lions Capital also provides financing and merger and
acquisitions services to life science and technology companies.
For further information:
For further information: David J. Main, Aquinox Pharmaceuticals Inc.,
(604) 675-2014, email@example.com; Christine Ramsay, Ventures West, (416)