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7 November 2017

Exicure extrapolates $31.3m

Northwestern University spinout Exicure, formerly known as AuraSense Therapeutics, has added $11.2m to its latest funding round with contributions from Purple Arch Ventures.

Author: Thierry Heles, editor

Exicure, a US-based biotechnology spinout of Northwestern University, closed a $31.3m private placement yesterday following an $11.2m extension that included Purple Arch Ventures, a venture fund backed by the institution’s alumni.

The extension was led by pharmaceutical firm Luye Pharma, with contributions from Eager Info Investments and Knoll Capital Management.

Exicure had previously secured $20.1m in a first tranche in October 2017 co-led by Katalyst Securities and Mark Tompkins, with participation from biopharmaceutical company AbbVie’s corporate venturing subsidiary, AbbVie Ventures, and Rathmann Family Foundation.

The first close also featured private investors Bill Gates, Eric Lefkofsky, Craig Mundie, Patrick Ryan and David Walt.

The spinout completed a reverse merger with shell company Max-1 Acquisition, which subsequently changed its name to Exicure, at the time of the first close.

Founded in 2009 as AuraSense Therapeutics, Exicure is developing treatments for inflammatory diseases, genetic disorders and cancer. The approach involves using nanotechnology to build spherical nucleic acids that can enter cells without producing an immune response.

The technology is based on research conducted by Chad Mirkin at Northwestern University’s International Institute for Nanotechnology.

Exicure said at the time of the round’s first close that the capital would be used for research as well as pre-clinical and clinical development.

The spinout previously raised $14.8m in funding in October 2015, according to a securities filing.

Exciure had earlier closed an $18m series C round in February 2015, raised over two tranches with a first $13.6m close in 2014 backed by Rathmann Family Foundation and assorted angel investors. The company did not name the investors in the extension.

Abbott Biotech Ventures, the investment arm of healthcare conglomerate Abbott Laboratories, contributed to a $5.4m series B round in 2012 alongside private backers. Exicure added an undisclosed sum in series B funding from Abbott Biotech Ventures and angel investors the following year.

Exicure had also obtained $2.5m in series A capital in 2009, on top of funding from the US government’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

Li You Xin, senior vice-president and head of R&D at Luye Pharma, said: “As we look to the next generation of innovative pharmaceuticals we clearly see a major role for nucleic acid therapies that regulate genes and enhance the immune system to combat disease.

“The team at Exicure has made tremendous strides in unlocking the potential of these highly-targeted medicines.”

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