Media Coverage

Funding and relocation brings Likarda's regenerative medicines closer to market

Aug 29, 2017 - Animal Pharm
By Joseph Harvey
Animal Pharm
August 29, 2017

US firm Likarda is to achieve two significant landmarks in quick succession as it works towards commercializing its diabetes treatments for companion animals.

Firstly, the company has secured $4 million through a series A funding round. The investment came solely from Werth Family Investment Associates.

The second big step for Likarda will come in October, when the firm relocates to larger premises in Kansas City aimed at providing a stronger platform for manufacturing.

Scale-up business

Likarda is building its business around its expertise in regenerative medicine for companion animals, particularly in the field of diabetes management. The company's insulin-producing cell clusters – named Kanslets – can be injected into animals with diabetes in a minimally-invasive and cost-effective way.

An estimated one in 100 dogs and cats contract diabetes in their lifetime. This means around 1.5 million pets will suffer from diabetes. To date, these pets are treated with twice-daily insulin injections. This method places enormous stress on pets and their owners, according to Likarda.

The influx of new investment will allow the firm to scale up the development of the Kanslets as a commercial prospect. The company's clinical research program in dogs is being finalized and is expected to launch by the end of the year.

Change in funding

Originally, Likarda was a family-funded business following its establishment in 2012. Then, through its work as a contract research organization (CRO), the firm was able to become profitable at a very early stage and has established a trajectory of organic growth ever since.

This CRO work sees Likarda use a proprietary cell culture system to create 3D cell clusters, or the equivalent of miniaturized organs. The company says this system has applications in markets ranging from drug discovery and development to cell-based transplantation and regenerative medicine.

Likarda's ability to generate healthy sales, and the steadiness these revenues bring to the business, paved the way for much more significant investment in the form of the series A round.

Dr Lisa Stehno-Bittel, president and co-founder of Likarda, said: "Partnership with Werth Family Investment Associates brings both funds to advance our product line, and extensive experience in successful pharmaceutical licensing of new products for both human and animal health."

Werth Family Investment Associates is a serial angel investor for young companies focused on pharmaceuticals, veterinary medicines and medical devices.

Dr Karthik Ramachandran, vice president and co-founder, told Animal Pharm: "We have a unique business model. We are lucky to have the CRO business and its revenues. We didn't want to go out seeking investment and then have to work out what to do with it.

"We were always looking for the right investor with the right funding threshold and the right alignment with our team. So, it was a fortunate scenario to meet with Peter Werth."

Likarda's plan now is to further grow its CRO business organically and use the series A investment to fuel the R&D of its cell therapies.

"We are looking at all aspects of commercialization," Dr Ramachandran explained. "We are always looking for partnerships."

Outgrown space

Likarda has now outgrown its current space at the Bioscience & Technology Business Center (BTBC) on the Kansas University Medical Center Campus. The company will relocate to the former Marion Laboratories campus in south Kansas City, Missouri, in October.

This move will more than double the square footage of Likarda's laboratory space – another factor that will allow it to scale up operations.

Likarda will relocate its seven staff from the BTBC site – where the firm has been since it was founded – to its new location. Here, it will create 16 new jobs over time.

Dr Ramachandran said: "Over the last five years, we have taken over most of the ground floor at the BTBC incubator. But we're revenue generating and we don't need to be incubated any more – we need our own space that will allow us to manufacture our cell therapies."

Reprinted with permission of Animal Pharm Newsive




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