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Biopharmaceutical startup raises $65 million

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Evanston-based biopharmaceutical company Aptinyx Inc. today announced it has raised $65 million to support testing new drugs.

The financing was led by New Leaf Venture Partners and included additional new investors Frazier Healthcare Partners, Longitude Capital, and Osage University Partners.

Existing investors, which provided seed capital when Aptinyx, operating from offices at 1801 Maple Ave., was spun out of Naurex last year, also participated in the round and include Adams Street Partners, LVP Life Science Ventures, PathoCapital, Goudy Park Capital, Beecken Petty O'Keefe & Company, and Northwestern University.

Naurex, run by the same small team of about 40 people now at Aptinyx, was acquired by Allergan last year for $560 million.

The Series A financing will be used for initial clinical studies for Aptinyx's lead drug candidate and discovery of additional small-molecule modulators of the NMDA receptor.

Concurrent with the financing, Aptinyx added three members to its board of directors: Liam Ratcliffe, M.D., Ph.D., managing director of New Leaf Venture Partners; James Topper, M.D., Ph.D., managing general partner of Frazier Healthcare Partners; andPatrick Enright, founder and managing director of Longitude Capital.

"Broad recognition of the potential of our proven technology and team made this a highly sought-after investment opportunity, and we are pleased to have garnered the support of such high-quality and experienced investors," said Norbert Riedel, Ph.D., president and chief executive officer of Aptinyx. "The proceeds from this financing will fuel our discovery engine and allow us to conduct multiple clinical studies to evaluate the therapeutic properties of our promising compounds."

Aptinyx has completed IND-enabling studies of the first clinical candidate from its proprietary chemistry platform for discovery of small-molecule, orally bioavailable NMDA receptor modulators. The company expects to initiate Phase 1 studies in mid-2016.

"The Aptinyx team has a remarkable track record of advancing novel compounds that modulate the NMDA receptor through a unique mechanism, and we are eager to support the company's discovery and development of differentiated therapies in the field of neuroscience," said Dr. Ratcliffe.

Aptinyx's compounds are designed to enhance synaptic plasticity — or strengthen the network for neural cell communication — a clinically validated mechanism with therapeutic potential across multiple nervous system conditions.

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