KUNSHAN, China, Jan. 7, 2014 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Kunshan RiboQuark Pharmaceutical Technology Co., Ltd. ("RiboQuark"), a Chinese-foreign equity joint venture and clinical stage pharmaceutical company, established by Suzhou Ribo Life Science Co., Ltd. ("Ribo") and Quark Pharmaceuticals Inc., announced today that it has raised nearly RMB 45 million in a series A financing round. The financing was led by BVCF, China's leading life sciences venture capital firm. In addition to BVCF, investors in the financing included SBI Incubation Co., Ltd., a subsidiary of SBI Group of Japan, the Kunshan Industrial Technology Research Institute Investment Co., Ltd. and Kunshan Hongtu Hi-tech Venture Capital Management Co., Ltd.
The proceeds of this capital raise will be used primarily to accelerate the clinical development of RiboQuark's lead product, QPI-1007, an ocular neuroprotectant RiboQuark has licensed from Quark Pharmaceuticals to sell in China and several other countries. QPI-1007 is entering global Phase III studies in non-arteritic anterior ischemic optic neuropathy (NAION) and a pilot Phase II study in acute angle closure glaucoma. NAION is a devastating, incurable orphan disease, which is an entirely unmet medical need. The only known treatment for angle closure glaucoma, which is a major cause of blindness worldwide, is surgical intervention.
In addition to the further clinical development of QPI-1007, this capital will enable RiboQuark to continue developing its broad pipeline of siRNA-based preclinical drug candidates, contributed by its two founders, for a wide range of diseases – including cancer, hepatitis and lung injury. RiboQuark is also developing for the Chinese market a siRNA-based cosmetic product for the prevention of hair loss as a result of chemotherapy and radiation.
Dr. Liang Zicai, Chairman of Ribo, commented, "The successful completion of this financing round is a strong demonstration of the confidence of our investors in the future of RNAi therapeutics and the ability of RiboQuark to lead this emerging drug class development in China and Asia. RNAi technologies have progressed immensely in the last few years, creating a huge knowledge base that, I believe, will continue to grow. This should allow the siRNA drugs to fulfill the promise to enable the treatment of a vast panel of diseases."
"We are glad to have the opportunity to lead this round of RiboQuark financing," said Zhi Yang, Founding Partner and Chairman of BVCF, "We are confident that given the combination of the highly experienced management team between Ribo and Quark, the company is well positioned to deliver on the promise of RNAi therapeutics."
Dr. Daniel Zurr, president and CEO of Quark Pharmaceuticals Inc. said, "We are very excited that this financing allows us to accelerate the development of the breakthrough neuroprotective agent QPI-1007. Both NAION and angle closure glaucoma are devastating diseases characterized by the loss of retinal ganglion cells (RGCs), causing optical nerve damage and often leading to irreversible loss of vision. Studies have shown that as many as 28 million people in China have a genetic predisposition for angle closure glaucoma, with 9 to 10 million people suffering from the disease. We believe that the disease is similarly prevalent throughout Asia, making the protection of RGCs an important objective in the broader effort to increase overall ocular health in the region."
QPI-1007 is a synthetic siRNA designed to temporarily inhibit expression of the pro-apoptotic protein, Caspase 2. QPI-1007 utilizes a novel siRNA structure developed by Quark that preserves activity while attenuating off-target and immunostimulatory effects. Quark completed a phase I/IIa first in human, open label, single-dose, dose escalation, safety, tolerability and pharmacokinetic study of QPI-1007, conducted at 16 centers in the USA and 5 centers in Israel. The study showed QPI-1007 was safe and exhibits strong neuroprotective activity in NAION patients.
Ribo Life Science Co., Ltd. is an innovative R&D company devoted to the development of nucleic acid drugs and related products based on the RNA interference (RNAi) technology. Ribo has built a strong strength in nucleic acid liquid-phase synthesis technology and production of nucleic acid crude drugs, and has developed some great drug R&D projects with its innovative R&D capabilities, aiming to make contribution to the treatment of serious diseases troubling the Chinese population. Ribo's founders include some of China's most renowned scientists in the field of RNAi technology. Ribo received the prize of The First Innovative Team in Jiangsu China. Ribo is headquartered in Kunshan, Jiangsu Province and has a subsidiary in Beijing. For more information, please visit www.ribolia.com
About Quark Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
Quark Pharmaceuticals, Inc., the world leader in novel RNAi discovery and development, has the largest clinical-stage siRNA pipeline in the industry. The Company's fully integrated drug development platform spans therapeutic target identification to drug development. Quark's approach to delivery allows targeting of tissues and organs including the eye, kidney, ear, lung, skin, spinal cord and brain. Quark has a rich pipeline of siRNA drug candidates in six different indications, which completed proof of concept in a variety of animal models conducted by renowned opinion leaders. It has three product candidates in clinical development in five different indications of which four are in phase II and one in phase IIb. Quark is part of the SBI Group, Japan, and is headquartered in Fremont, California and operates research and development facilities in Boulder, Colorado and Ness-Ziona, Israel. For additional information please visit: www.quarkpharma.com
BVCF (http://bvcf.com/, formally known as BioVeda China) is the first and go-to private equity and growth capital investor specializing in China Life Sciences and Healthcare industry. Headquartered in Shanghai, BVCF's team includes partners with premier academic background and extensive operational experience. Investors include institutional limited partners and leading MNC pharmaceutical companies. BVCF focuses on investment in mid-market (US$ 50 – 100 million enterprise value) Life Science and Healthcare companies in China. The BVCF team takes an active approach with all of its investments, through predominantly significant minority ownership position and selected control stake position. The target portfolio company for BVCF is profiled to be a mid to late stage company as a top player in its sector with capable trustworthy management teams and strong growth potential.
CONTACT: Quark Pharmaceuticals, Inc. For Media & Investor Relations Juliana Friedmann +972 89 30 5111 firstname.lastname@example.orgSource:Quark Pharmaceuticals, Inc.USA.