Proterris and Alfama Complete Merger to Create Global Leader in Carbon Monoxide Therapies
Merger Results in the Establishment of Proterris’ European Subsidiary in Lisbon, Portugal
Proterris, Inc., a clinical-development stage company focused on therapeutic applications of low-dose carbon monoxide, and Alfama, Inc. today announced the completion of a merger of the two companies that effectively creates the world’s dominant player in the field of carbon monoxide (CO) therapies. Proterris, which has a leading position in gaseous applications of CO, has acquired Alfama’s CO releasing molecule (“CORM”) assets, arguably the most extensive in the field. In connection with the asset acquisition, Proterris has acquired all of Alfama’s subsidiaries, including Alfama Lda. located near Lisbon, Portugal, which will be renamed Proterris (Portugal) Lda.
In conjunction with the merger, Proterris will also implement a collaboration with Prof. Carlos Romão of the Institute of Chemical and Biological Technology (ITQB) of the New University of Lisbon (NOVA), one of the scientific pioneers and inventors of Aflama’s CORM assets, in order to further optimize CORM candidates for a variety of indications. Proterris looks to continue advancing its own gaseous Phase 2/3 trial in delayed graft function (DGF)prior to moving one of the CORM candidates into clinical trials, which the company aims to start in the next 18-24 months.
“Alfama has discovered and developed unique families of CORMs which have demonstrated very potent anti-fibrotic, anti-inflammatory and cytoprotective effects with very low toxicity potential,” said Jeffrey D. Wager, M.D., Chairman & CEO of Proterris. “Until now, achievement of such drug-like profiles for CORMs has eluded scientists and companies alike. Alfama’s CORM assets represent excellent candidates for drug development for those indications which are less amenable to therapy with CO gas. In addition, by establishing Proterris (Portugal) Lda., we are now well-positioned to pursue a variety of European partnering and fundraising activities in both the private and public sectors. This coincides very well with the Series A fundraising campaign which are launching with the closing of this merger.”
Dr. Wager has designed and structured multiple cross-border life science transactions in the past, including a major Japanese spin-out involving both Asian and American investors, a European Union-based corporate venture capital fund investing in both Europe and the U.S., and a specialty pharma roll-up in Brazil involving private equity funds from both Latin America and the U.S.
“The merger of Alfama with Proterris represents a very synergistic and strategic fit between two companies with common goals, and substantially enhances corporate value for both sets of shareholders,” commented Nuno Arantes-Oliveira, founding Chief Executive of Alfama. “We are very glad to make Alfama part of Proterris’ exceptional IP portfolio, an important step in our evolution towards bringing low-dose CO therapies to patients.”
Celso Guedes de Carvalho, CEO of Portugal Ventures, one of Alfama’s largest shareholders, added, “This transaction demonstrates how supporting investments for the ‘long-haul’ – given the capital and time required in the biotech sector – allows breakthrough technologies to reach patients. With regard to Alfama, their story demonstrates that when the technology is truly ground-breaking and the team strong and resilient, it is worth the wait. We believe this merger, with support from Portugal Ventures, will significantly increase the international visibility of the growing Portuguese Life Science startup ecosystem.”
The Proterris-Alfama proposition for CO therapy is validated by almost $23 million in funding for three Phase 2 clinical trials using low dose CO gas. The U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) has funded these trials over the past five years for indications covered by patents licensed from a group of top U.S. universities or written by Proterris.
Alfama is the leading company in the development of Carbon Monoxide-Releasing Molecules (CORMs) for therapy. The company has produced hundreds of CORMs and obtained exceptional results in various animal models of chronic and acute human diseases. CORMs have the potential to expand CO-based therapy to a wide range of high-value indications, can be administered orally or intravenously, and offer a very attractive therapeutic window and safety profile. After acquiring hemoCORM Ltd of London, UK, Alfama came to control a diverse set of families of patents and patent applications on CORMs which together position the company as the undisputed leader in CORM technology.
Alfama was founded in Portugal and received funding from venture capital agencies such as Portugal Ventures, along with private investors from the U.S., the U.K, Spain and Portugal. The Company assembled an international team of scientific and business leaders. Its founders included Roche scientist Werner Haas, New University of Lisbon Chemistry Professor Carlos Romão, Stan Kugell, its founding Chairman, and Nuno Arantes-Oliveira, its founding CEO.
Proterris, Inc. is a clinical-development stage company focused on therapeutic applications of low-dose carbon monoxide (CO). Leveraging CO’s demonstrated anti-fibrotic, anti-inflammatory and cytoprotective properties, Proterris is initially focused on developing CO for delayed graft function (DGF) in renal transplant recipients and idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF). Other indications, including pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) and acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), are also being developed by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). CO has broad potential to significantly impact the lives of millions of patients suffering from a wide variety of both acute and chronic diseases.
Proterris was founded on the pioneering science of Proterris co-founder Augustine M.K. Choi, M.D., who is Professor of Medicine and the Stephen and Suzanne Weiss Dean at Weill Cornell Medicine and Provost for Medical Affairs at Cornell University; and David J. Pinsky, M.D., the J. Griswold Ruth M.D. & Margery Hopkins Ruth Professor of Internal Medicine, Professor of Molecular and Integrative Physiology, Chief, Cardiovascular Medicine, and Director, Cardiovascular Center of the University of Michigan. Between them, Dr.’s Choi and Pinsky have generated an extensive body of mechanistic, translational and clinical research data, as well as a broad intellectual property portfolio on the therapeutic opportunities of CO for multiple diseases. For more information, please visit www.proterris.com.
For further information, contact:
Jeffrey D. Wager, M.D., Chairman & CEO, Proterris, Inc.
MacDougall Biomedical Communications
Kari Watson or Stefanie Tuck