ZZ Biotech, a University of Rochester spinoff, has completed its second equity offering of $10 million, officials said.
The biotechnology firm, founded by neuroscientist Berislav Zlokovic M.D., at UR’s medical center, is expected to use the funding to produce a new class of compounds to treat stroke, a leading cause of long-term disability in the nation. The dollars also will be used to conduct initial clinical studies scheduled to begin next year.
Investors in the second round of ZZ Biotech’s equity offering include affiliates of Los Angeles businessman Selim Zilkha, a longtime supporter of Zlokovic’s work.
Zlokovic’s team discovered that a compound known as activated protein C may hold promise in treating stroke, URMC officials said. In laboratory tests, the new compound offers the brain-saving capability of APC but with a greatly reduced risk of bleeding, a concern in stroke patients.
New Jersey’s Laureate Pharma Inc., a biopharmaceutical development and protein production company, will produce the APC variant.
“This is tremendously exciting for us,” Zlokovic said in a statement. “We are very thankful for the support of our investors, who are crucial to our efforts to test this potential new therapy for stroke beyond the laboratory to the point where testing in people becomes likely.
“Ultimately, this is about improving the lives of patients, and this is a big step in that direction.”
Zlokovic, who is director of the Center for Neurodegenerative and Vascular Brain Disorders and dean’s professor in the Department of Neurosurgery at URMC, has received several honors for his research. He has started three companies, including ZZ Biotech.
ZZ Biotech and ZZ Alztech, which focuses on developing new compounds to treat Alzheimer’s disease, were formed in 2007 and were principally owned by Socratech LLC, the original UR spinoff built around Zlokovic’s research. Socratech was launched in 2001. UR holds an equity interest in all three companies.
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