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Opsona Therapeutics Closes EUR18M Funding

DUBLIN, Ireland, February 18 /PRNewswire/ -- Opsona Therapeutics, a biotechnology company focused on novel therapeutic and preventative approaches to autoimmune and inflammatory diseases, today announced the completion of an EUR18M ($23M) Series B financing round which will enable it to expand both at an operational and clinical level. Novartis Venture Fund, Fountain Healthcare Partners, Inventages Venture Capital and Seroba Kernel Life Sciences all participated in the funding.

Proceeds will support the advancement of Opsona's clinical trials targeting inflammatory diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus and transplantation. As a part of the financing, Opsona Therapeutics also announced the addition of Florent Gros, managing director at Novartis Venture Fund, and Dr. Manus Rogan, managing partner at Fountain Healthcare Partners, to the Board of Directors. Opsona expects to make a number of other key appointments in the corporate and clinical areas in the coming months.

Commenting on the announcement, Dr Mark Heffernan, Chief Executive Officer of Opsona Therapeutics, said: "Completion of this financing represents a significant milestone in the transition of Opsona into a product-focused company delivering key clinical development milestones. With the endorsement of our existing and new investors, including the Novartis Venture Fund, Fountain Healthcare Partners and Seroba Kernel Life Sciences. Opsona is positioned to deliver on proof of concept studies in patients by targeting inflammatory diseases through the innate immune system, with our ultimate aim being to uncover innovative therapies that combat diseases with significant unmet medical need."

Opsona is developing biopharmaceutical and small molecule products which modulate the innate immune system, which is the key trigger in the inflammation cascade in many autoimmune and inflammatory diseases. Opsona's lead product, a fully humanised monoclonal antibody (OPN-305) to a key toll-like receptor (TLR) target, has demonstrated efficacy in a number of animal models and will start pivotal clinical trials in 2010.

Florent Gros, managing director, Novartis Venture Fund added, "We are delighted to be working with Opsona Therapeutics and the other investors to assist Opsona in progressing the company's highly innovative technology and approaches towards the clinic. The innate immune system represents a new frontier in targeting inflammatory diseases, and the caliber of the investors in this funding round is a demonstration of Opsona's expertise and capabilities in this highly promising field.'

Opsona has also announced the opening of a new facility in Switzerland. The Swiss laboratory will carry out pivotal assay development and biochemical work for new projects and therapeutics recently acquired by Opsona to expand its pipeline of immunomodulators. The expertise that it intends to grow in Switzerland will complement the existing team and activity in Dublin.

Dr Cormac Kilty, Chairman of Opsona and past Chairman of the Irish Bioindustry Association explains "This is major achievement for any biotechnology company in the current economic climate. Opsona's R&D shows that emerging Irish companies can reach international recognition in biotechnology."

Notes to Editors:

About Opsona Therapeutics

Opsona is a drug development company, focused on novel therapeutic and preventative approaches to autoimmune and inflammatory diseases. The company was founded in 2004 with three of Trinity College Dublin's respected Immunologists (Professors Luke O'Neill, Kingston Mills and Dermot Kelleher). The company is specifically interested in drugs which modulate the innate immune system and its signalling, specifically Toll-Like Receptors (TLR). Opsona has a pipeline of therapeutics in advanced pre-clinical development which modulate the innate immune system, including biologics and small molecules. The company has signed some significant partnering and collaborative deals, such as with Wyeth (USA). The company is based in Dublin and also has laboratories in Lausanne, Switzerland.

About Novartis Venture Fund

The Novartis Venture Fund, established in 1996 currently manages over $650 million in committed capital. NVF invests in companies which have the potential to change a core therapeutic field or explore new business areas that will be critical to patient care. Our primary interest is in the development of novel therapeutics and platforms as well as medical devices, diagnostics, and delivery systems. The Fund invests for financial objectives at all stages, but prefers to invest in the early-stages of company development. With eight investment professionals located in Basel, Switzerland and Cambridge, MA the team has extensive experience in pharmaceutical R&D and venture capital.

About Fountain Healthcare Partners

Fountain Healthcare Partners ("Fountain") is a life science focused venture capital fund headquartered in Dublin, Ireland with a second office in New York, US. Fountain specialises in making investments in biotechnology, medical device, specialty pharma and diagnostic companies and allocates the majority of its capital to Europe with a primary emphasis on Ireland. Fountain launched its inaugural fund (Fountain Healthcare Partners I) in May 2008 with EUR75M in committed capital.

About Inventages

Inventages is one of the world's largest life-sciences, nutrition and wellness focused venture capital funds, with the resources to provide continued support to growing companies.

About Seroba Kernel Life Sciences

Seroba Kernel is a dedicated life science venture capital fund manager with offices in Ireland and the UK. The firm recently announced the first close of Seroba Kernel Life Sciences Fund II with EUR75m in committed capital, bringing total funds under management by the six-member team in the life science sector to over EUR200m. The fund will invest in European life science companies with the majority of its capital invested in Ireland and the UK.
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SOURCE Opsona Therapeutics Ltd
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