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Two scientists inspect erlenmeyer flask

The Basel-based biotechnology company Therachon has raised an additional USD 5 million in its latest financing round. It also appointed Luca Santarelli as its new CEO.

The Series A financing round brought in a total USD 40 million (CHF 40.4 million), according to a Therachon statement. It included Versant Ventures, one of Theracon’s founding investors.

Based in Basel, Therachon develops treatments for rare, genetic diseases. Its lead programme is in achondroplasia, the most common form of short-limbed dwarfism. According to the new CEO Luca Santarelli, the lead pipeline candidate has demonstrated “exceptional preclinical efficacy and holds the promise of fully restoring normal growth”.

Santarelli worked for many years at the Basel-based pharmaceutical company Roche, serving most recently as Senior Vice President and Global head of Neuroscience, Ophthalmology and Rare Diseases. In addition to his academic and industrial R&D experience, he has gathered considerable business experience as a Venture Partner at Versant Ventures.

Santarelli’s “deep industry experience will help Therachon develop its portfolio and accelerate its leading programme into the clinic,” said Tom Woiwode, managing director at Versant Ventures.

With its Basel office, the US venture capital firm is one of the most active investors in the biotechnology sector in Europe. It recently launched a USD 400 million fund to invest in start-ups in Europe, Canada and the US. Alex Mayweg will oversee the operations of Baseline Therapeutics in Basel. The initiative will partner with leading European academics to translate their discoveries into biotech start-ups.

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