Editor’s note: This is 10th in a series of profiles of companies presenting at Venture 2003.Kucera Pharmaceuticals has put together both novel technology and an experienced management team that has impressed investors enough to already raise seed and “A” rounds.

The company, which is named after one of its two co-founders, is back for more funding, presenting at Venture 2003 this week.

Its targets for treatment — HIV and cancer — certainly aren’t ones for the faint of heart or lacking in capital to target.

Having licensed proprietary technology for what it sees as promising chemical compounds, drug delivery and a related patent portfolio from Wake Forest University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Kucera sees particular promise in battling HIV, says Russ Read, the firm’s first employee and its chief executive officer.

First target is HIV.

“Kucera is delivering a product profile in its target market based on future market needs,” he says. “Oral drug, simple to take, once daily and effective against resistant HIV.”

One of its targeted competitors is Fuzeon, the recently approved HIV drug from Trimeris.

Kucera’s development pipeline includes KPC-2 (antiviral, specifically HIV), INK-20 (when coupled with AZT, produces anti-HIV activity 20 times greater than AZT alone and with increased patient safety) and KPC-1 (synthetic carrier designed to improve drug delivery to lymphomas and brain tumors).

Company co-founder Dr. Louis Kucera, a professor of microbiology and immunology at Wake Forest University, has more than 30 years experience in anti-viral research. Dr. Ronald Fleming, Kucera’s other co-founder, has 14 years in experimental therapeutics and drug development and was a former assistant professor at Wake Forest. He also led oncology clinical research for North American Medical Affairs at GlaxoSmithKline.

Adding to the wealth of experience is Dr. Phillip Furman, strategic advisor, who is co-inventor of AZT and is former chief scientific officer of Triangle Pharmaceuticals, which recently was acquired by another firm. Furman also served as director of Virology at Burroughs Wellcome.

Read has more than 25 years of experience in pharmaceuticals, including a stint as global commercial strategy director for Ziagen at Glaxo.

Kucera is one of 23 companies preparing for presentations at Venture 2003, the Council for Entrepreneurial Development’s 20th annual venture capital event.

As it did a year ago, Local Tech Wire is featuring in-depth profiles of presenting firms built around a Q&A with a company executive as well as a Fact Box of important information. One profile will appear each day. Read provided answers for Kucera.

LTW put together a Q&A designed to not only produce facts about the presenters but also to give each a chance to state the case for venture capitalists to invest.

Venture 2003 is set for April 22-23 in Chapel Hill.

Times are tough. If you had only one chance and one paragraph to convince an investor, how would you answer this question: “Why should an investor choose your company?”

Kucera delivers on milestones. The senior management has put drugs into the clinic many times before and it knows the space. It has wisely read the market conditions and stretched cash in return for achievement of preclinical milestones on KPC-2, a novel HIV drug with excellent characteristics for the growing HIV resistant virus segment.

What is the “pain point” (or points) you address for your customers?

Kucera is delivering a product profile in its target market based on future market needs. Oral drug, simple to take, once daily and effective against resistant HIV.

What makes your company unique? Do you have a proprietary and/or a patented technology? Please explain why it is unique and what the status is of any patent filings.

There are others who use small molecules similar to ours but none exhibit the specific activity against HIV that ours does, its novel, unique and patented.

What makes your product(s) and/or services unique vs. your competition?

Other small molecules targeted against HIV and resistance. Our proven competition is Fuzeon • from Trimeris. It’s a twice daily injection anti-HIV drug and has a complicated synthesis whereas Kucera’s KPC-2 is a six-step synthesis, is oral and has once daily dosing. In any event because combinations are used in treatment of HIV all these drugs are needed and usually work in cocktail three drug therapy together. We could foresee our drug as part of a cocktail.

Does your company already generate revenue? If so, how much? Are you cash flow positive?

2004 partnership signing bonus $1.0 million — we are not cash flow positive but could be by 2009

What is your target market?

Resistant HIV

What is the size of that market in terms of dollars?

In 2009 $3 . 2011 $350 to $500 Million

What share of that market do you believe you can win?

As above

What will you do with the invested funds?

Progress drug into man and develop back-up compounds

What is the timeline for product delivery?

By 2009 approval and on market.

If you have existing products and services, how will additional
funding help you expand your company, if that is the intention, or will you develop new products?

Kucera has a rich armamentarium over 100 compounds in library and has three leads INK-20(HIV) KPC-1 ( anticancer) and a compound for a virus called RSV which causes high mortality in the new born.

What do you want from an investor other than money?


Why will investors be impressed with your management team?

For an early stage start we are a very experienced management team. All have been in drug development and commercialization in our area.

What is the exit strategy for the investor from your company?

Blockbuster drug is a great acquisition. Eventual IPO when market improves; looking at 2006.

Are there potential strategic alliances with larger companies?

Yes, our model is one of strategic partnerships, co-development for milestone and royalties on our compounds up to Phase 1 (human study clinic).

Just the Facts on Kucera: www.localtechwire.com/article.cfm?u=3888