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Circassia gets £60m for allergy products

Phase III funding represents second largest amount raised by a privately held European biopharma company in 2011
Specialist biopharmaceutical company focused on allergy, Circassia, has closed a £60m ($98m) funding round for phase III developments that represents the second largest amount raised by a privately held European biopharma company in 2011. 

The fundraising was led by Imperial Innovations and included investments from other existing shareholders, including Invesco Perpetual and is scheduled in two tranches over the next two years. To date, Circassia has completed four investment rounds, raising approximately £93m ($159m).

The new money will fund phase III development programmes for Circassia's cat and ragweed allergy therapies, the completion of phase II testing of its house dust mite and grass allergy T-cell vaccines, as well as development programmes for three additional allergy therapies and Circassia's recently acquired psoriasis treatment, PAP-1.

"The success of this fundraising follows a year of major clinical and corporate achievements for Circassia," said Steve Harris, Circassia's CEO.

"We have achieved positive phase II results in our three lead allergy programmes and extended our portfolio into the autoimmunity field. Since Circassia's establishment five years ago, we have built a company with a broad pipeline, completed numerous phase II trials and raised significant investment funding. The new financing will allow us to build on this progress and transform Circassia into a world-class immunotherapy business."

Circassia is developing a range of allergy T-cell vaccines based on its proprietary ToleroMune technology. Clinical results to date show that short treatment regimes with its T-cell vaccines can greatly reduce patients' allergic reactions, without the need for adjuvants or other immune stimulators, while being well tolerated. As a result, the treatments could potentially offer major clinical benefits compared with existing therapies and have significant market opportunities. 

Over 150 million people suffer from allergic rhinitis in the US and Europe and the current treatment market is worth around $12bn per year.

Circassia was founded in 2006 by a team of biotechnology scientists and entrepreneurs and is chaired by the former chairman of GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), Sir Richard Sykes. It is based in the UK and Canada. 

20th April 2011

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