An Or­biMed-backed start­up looks to cut ex­cess cor­ti­cos­teroids with mid-stage tests for its lead drug queued up

Or­biMed has had a busy few months with a slate of star­tups launch­ing out of its al­ways pro­duc­tive pipeline of busi­ness con­cepts. Now, an Or­biMed-backed play­er in Ore­gon is look­ing to tamp down in­tra­cel­lu­lar steroid tox­i­c­i­ty, and it’s got a healthy check to get off the ground.

Port­land-based Spar­row Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals launched Tues­day with a $50 mil­lion Se­ries A led by Or­biMed and a lead cor­ti­cos­teroid low­er­ing can­di­date geared up for Phase II tri­als, the com­pa­ny said.

David Katz

The com­pa­ny’s lead drug, an oral HSD-1 in­hibitor dubbed SPI-62, helps cut ex­cess cor­ti­cos­teroids cir­cu­lat­ing in pa­tients, whether nat­u­ral­ly or through steroid ther­a­py, which can cause tox­i­c­i­ty in tis­sues, Spar­row said.

Found­ed on sci­ence by CSO David Katz, the drug in­ter­acts with HSD-1, which the biotech called the “pre­dom­i­nant source” of in­tra­cel­lu­lar steroids. By go­ing af­ter that path­way, Spar­row thinks it can curb steroid tox­i­c­i­ty po­ten­tial­ly with­out im­ped­ing the ef­fi­ca­cy of steroids used to treat in­flam­ma­to­ry con­di­tions.

The com­pa­ny ex­pects to en­ter SPI-62 in­to mul­ti­ple Phase II stud­ies in en­doge­nous Cush­ing’s syn­drome, au­tonomous cor­ti­sol se­cre­tion, and polymyal­gia rheumat­i­ca with­in the next 12 months, ac­cord­ing to a re­lease. Those tests will queue up a se­ries of read­outs over the next few years.

Robert Jacks

With its first round in hand, Spar­row on Tues­day ap­point­ed Robert Jacks, a Pfiz­er vet­er­an and for­mer Or­biMed en­tre­pre­neur-in-res­i­dence, as CEO to to lead the com­pa­ny in­to its next phase.

“With this new fi­nanc­ing, we have an op­por­tu­ni­ty not on­ly to ad­dress un­met med­ical needs in pa­tients suf­fer­ing from dis­or­ders of hy­per­cor­ti­solism, but al­so to po­ten­tial­ly solve the 70-year-old puz­zle of how to sep­a­rate the life-chang­ing ef­fi­ca­cy of steroid med­i­cines from their se­vere side ef­fects,” Jacks said in a state­ment.

In ad­di­tion to SPI-62, Spar­row has an­oth­er can­di­date, a com­bo ther­a­py of an­oth­er HSD-1 in­hibitor and the steroid pred­nisolone that is cur­rent­ly in Phase I tests for polymyal­gia rheumat­i­ca.

The round was led by Or­biMed with par­tic­i­pa­tion from River­Vest Ven­ture Part­ners and US Ven­ture Part­ners.

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RBC Capital Markets explores what is material in ESG for biopharma companies with the ESG leads at Gilead Sciences. Gilead has long focused on sustainability but recognized a more robust framework was needed. Based on a materiality assessment, Gilead’s ESG strategy today focuses first on drug access and pricing, while also addressing D&I and climate change. Find out why Gilead’s board is “acutely aware” of the contribution that ESG makes to firm’s overall success.

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Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) with reporters in the Senate Subway (Graeme Sloan/Sipa via AP Images)

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Endpoints News turned five years old over the weekend. I wanted to mark the happy occasion by extending our deepest gratitude to Endpoints’ premium subscribers while outlining several other ways to support us as we go broader and get bigger this year and beyond.

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Ken Frazier, Merck CEO (Bess Adler/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

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