Portland biotech raises $350K from private investors

Azure Biotech Inc., which is developing a product related to women’s health, announced that it closed on a $355,000 funding round.

Ralph Makar, president and CEO, said the funding was from several accredited investors and private investment firms scattered all over the U.S. and internationally. It’s the first tranche of a $2 million offering of pre-Series A financing.

This isn’t the first financing round for the company, which was founded in 2013. The previous one was from Azure’s four founders, who are based on the East Coast, Makar said.

Azure licensed a compound called lasofoxifene from Ligand Pharmaceuticals Inc. It acquired the rights to develop a new formulation targeting an underserved market in women’s health, but one where there’s a huge need.

Makar said he couldn’t specify that market at this point, but lasofoxifene has been used to treat osteoporosis and other diseases. The reformulation Azure is developing still needs to go through full-scale clinical trials.

Boding well, Makar said, is that an oral version has already been extensively studied by Ligand and Pfizer, with data on more than 15,000 women.

“We already have significant safety information on the drug,” Makar said. “We have a clear path forward with lower costs.”

Under the terms of the agreement with Ligand, it is entitled to receive $2.7 million in potential development and regulatory milestones and a 5 percent royalty on future net sales.

Makar was president and CEO of Bioject Medical Technologies from 2007 to 2011. The Tigard-based company makes needleless injection systems, but has been scraping along financially. Last March, it announced a plan to restructure its balance sheet, nabbing $500,000 from two of its directors.

Makar also serves on the board of the Oregon Bioscience Association.


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