Name: Hamilton Pharmaceuticals Inc.
Funding: The company has raised $11 million from Index Ventures Management of Geneva, Vivo Ventures of Palo Alto and CNF Investments of Bethesda. Vivo Ventures and CNF also provided initial seed money of $2.5 million.
Big idea: Hamilton is a specialty pharmaceutical company focused on the development and commercialization of drugs for brain disease. The company is developing a drug that would treat a neurological disorder that occurs after a patient suffers a stroke. Chief executive Thomas N. Chase said he could not describe the exact disorder for competitive reasons, but he said the condition is caused by the dysfunction of a network of nerve cells. "We think we know where it occurs, why it occurs and how to fix it," Chase said. The drug is in phase-three trials. He said the company also has a "pipeline of promising candidates" to treat other neurological disorders, including Parkinson's disease, epilepsy, schizophrenia and depression.
How it works: The drug "acts on mechanisms in the brain in the frontal lobe which are knocked out as a result of stroke," Chase said. Alzheimer's and schizophrenia can also cause those mechanisms to become abnormal. "We think this drug could have broad applications for other diseases that affect the same area of the brain," Chase said. "It's not a 'me too' compound" similar to other drugs already on the market, he said.
Where the idea was hatched: Chase worked for the National Institutes of Health for 38 years and most recently was chief of the experimental therapeutics program at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke at NIH. "I was thinking about retiring and a group of deep-pocketed investors approached with an offer I couldn't refuse," Chase said. "I think it beats playing golf." The company started in 2004 and opened its office on K Street in February.
Who's in charge: Chase; Richard Williams, vice president for clinical and regulatory affairs; and Tom Roy, director of finance.
Web site: www.hamiltonpharma.com
What the name means: "Most people think the company was named in honor of the American patriot Alexander Hamilton," Chase said, "but that's not actually correct. The company was named by a California venture capitalist who, while he was filling out the registration papers, happened to look out his window and see a street sign named Hamilton."
-- Andrea Caumont