In early 2016, Millendo Therapeutics made Michigan business history when it raised $62 million in what was, at the time, the largest venture capital haul seen in the state.
The previous funding record for a VC-backed firm had been set in 2014 by then-Plymouth Township-based ProNAi Therapeutics, which eventually was rebranded as Sierra Oncology.
Millendo’s work was initially started in 2012 by a University of Michigan spin-out company called Atterocor Inc., which had been researching drugs to treat adrenal cancer. The Millendo name was in part an homage to Millie Schembechler, the wife of former U-M football coach Bo Schembechler. The “endo” part of the company’s name came from the focus on endocrine diseases.
In 2018 Millendo went public via a reverse merger with Massachusetts-based OvaScience, a company once valued at $1.8 billion.
Millendo’s recent troubles appeared to commence last April, just as the coronavirus pandemic was taking hold.
On April 6 of last year the company announced that a drug it had been testing to treat the genetic disorder Prader-Willi Syndrome had efficacy issues and “did not achieve statistically significant improvement” compared with a placebo.
At the time CEO Owens said in a news release that the company would focus its efforts on drugs for menopausal vasomotor symptoms, which include hot flashes and night sweats.
Then in early January of this year, the company announced that the data from tests showed that the drug, known as MLE-301, was well tolerated but still did not support moving forward with further testing.
“We would like to acknowledge and thank all of our employees for their hard work in supporting Millendo’s mission of pursuing novel therapies to alleviate patient suffering due to endocrine diseases,” then-board Chair Carol Gallagher said in a statement at the time. “The Board has continued to support the Company’s ongoing plans and execution efforts; however, at this time the Board believes that it is in the best interest of the Company and its shareholders to actively seek a broad range of strategic alternatives, including a sale or merger of the Company in order to maximize shareholder value.”
Based on the company’s most recent earnings report, for the nine-month period ending Sept. 30, 2020, Millendo marked down a $29 million loss. The company listed total assets of $48.8 million and total liabilities of $9 million.
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