Omega Funds leads $35M Series A to fuel Attenua’s cough program, set for proof-of-concept this year


As At­tenua con­tin­ues to de­velop its lead pro­gram for chronic cough, it will be doing so with $35 mil­lion in the bank and under the lead­er­ship of a new CEO.

In con­junc­tion with the Se­ries A fund­ing — led by Omega Funds with par­tic­i­pa­tion from a syn­di­cate that in­cludes Abing­worth, Or­biMed and Red­mile Group — Michael Kitt has taken the helm from founder Jing Liang. Kitt had pre­vi­ously served as CMO at a few biotechs, most re­cently at an­other cough drug de­vel­oper, Af­fer­ent Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals, prior to its ac­qui­si­tion by Merck.

At­tenua got at least part of its pipeline from a post-merger Cat­a­lyst Bio­sciences, when Cat­a­lyst was look­ing to of­fload sev­eral oral neu­ronal nico­tinic re­cep­tor (NNR) as­sets that came with Tar­ga­cept. The plan was to re­pur­pose one of those mol­e­cules for cough — pre­sum­ably At­tenua’s lead drug can­di­date, ATA-101 — and an­other for rare pe­di­atric dis­or­der.

The biotech will put the new cap­i­tal to use, push­ing ATA-101 through Phase II clin­i­cal tri­als, in­clud­ing a proof-of-con­cept study ex­pected to launch later this year, Kitt said in a state­ment.

While the vir­tual biotech was orig­i­nally con­ceived to be based in New York City — an as­pir­ing new biotech hub— its op­er­a­tions will be mov­ing to the San Fran­cisco area to cater to the new man­age­ment team and board.

Three rep­re­sen­ta­tives from the Se­ries A back­ers will join the board, in­clud­ing Omega Funds ad­vi­sor Dina Chaya, Abing­worth man­ag­ing part­ner Kurt von Em­ster and Or­bimed pri­vate eq­uity part­ner Rishi Gupta.

“We saw a unique op­por­tu­nity with At­tenua to lead this fi­nanc­ing, and are look­ing for­ward to work­ing with Michael and the At­tenua team,” Chaya said in a state­ment. “Chronic cough re­mains a sig­nif­i­cant unmet need af­fect­ing more than 2.5 mil­lion peo­ple in the U.S. alone.”