Home > Press > World Malaria Day Casts Spotlight on New Funding to Portland Firm for Treatment of Malaria
DesignMedix completes Series A Financing and Adds Grant Dollars
World Malaria Day Casts Spotlight on New Funding to Portland Firm for Treatment of Malaria
Portland, OR | Posted on April 25th, 2009
Saturday, April 25 is World Malaria Day, an occasion instituted by the World Health Assembly to raise awareness about the deadly, mosquito-borne disease. Among those who are working to combat malaria is DesignMedix Inc., an early stage drug developer.
The company recently announced new funding for novel drugs to attack the disease, which infects more than 500 million people per year and kills more than one million. The company's drugs in development are more than ten-times more active than most other drugs. This enables lower cost of production and reduced safety concerns. They also overcome drug resistance, which has become a major worldwide concern. The drugs are being developed in partnership with Dr. David Peyton's laboratory in the chemistry department at Portland State University (PSU).
DesignMedix has completed Series A financing, raising just over $1 million. The financing includes funding from the Oregon Angel Fund, Angel Oregon 2009 LLC, Women's Investment Network, and Northwest Technology Ventures, as well as several private investors.
DesignMedix completed its current financing round in part with a recent win at the Oregon Entrepreneurs Network 2009 Angel Oregon Competition. The company was selected from a group of 50 entrepreneurial teams for the top investment prize of $150,000. DesignMedix was honored for the strength of its management team and its innovative technology for overcoming drug resistance.
"The company has a compelling and unique technology that could solve a major health problem," said Drew Smith, chairman of the judging panel.
In addition to the equity funding, DesignMedix's product development plans received additional support with the award of two major R&D grants. The Oregon Nanoscience and Microtechnologies Institute (ONAMI) awarded $246,000 for a joint project with Portland State University to develop nanotech formulations of the company's antimalarial drugs for prevention of malaria in travelers. The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), provided a grant totaling over $1.3 million for drug development and preclinical studies. An additional grant from the government's stimulus funding to NIH is under review.
"The investment and awards reflect the fact the products DesignMedix is developing are important globally, and have the potential to save many lives," said Lynnor Stevenson, Ph.D., CEO of DesignMedix. "We are pleased to complete the funding in a difficult economic climate. The angel and investment community in Oregon has been very supportive of DesignMedix, and of our mission."
DesignMedix will use the funds to expand its product discovery efforts and take malaria drug candidate compounds forward into preclinical studies. In collaboration with PSU, OTRADI (Oregon Translational Research and Drug Development Institute) and the NIH, DesignMedix will investigate the application of the technology to other diseases.
DesignMedix was founded in 2006 to develop drugs to overcome drug resistance with an initial focus on curing malaria. The original technology, developed by Professor David Peyton, Ph.D., and licensed from Portland State University, has been further developed by the company to address malaria prevention and to treat other diseases that exhibit resistance. The company’s initial focus is on oral drugs to treat malaria, which kills over a million people per year and affects up to 500 million people. The company has developed a series of novel drugs that have demonstrated efficacy and have the potential for low-cost production.
About Malaria and World Malaria Day
According to UNICEF, a child dies of malaria every 30 seconds in Africa.
Nearly one million children under five years old in sub-Saharan Africa die each year from the mosquito-borne disease. Approximately half of the world's population is at risk of malaria, particularly those living in lower-income countries. It infects more than 500 million people per year and kills more than 1 million. The burden of malaria is heaviest in sub-Saharan Africa but the disease also afflicts Asia, Latin America, the Middle East and even parts of Europe. World Malaria Day was instituted by the World Health Assembly at its 60th session in May, 2007, as a day for recognizing the global effort to provide effective control of malaria.
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Lynnor Stevenson, Ph.D.
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