'Fundamentally different' from Portola, Dutch biotech lands €32M to steer anti-anticoagulant through the clinic
Portola may not have had much success proving the commercial value of an anti-anticoagulant, but that’s not stopping European investors from pouring $36.2 million (€32 million) into what they see as a superior approach put forth by a Dutch biotech.
VarmX’s blood thinner reversal agent stems from research done by founder and CSO Pieter Reitsma at Leiden University Medical Center. A modified recombinant form of factor X, VMX-C001 “has an insertion of 16 amino acids that replaces a stretch of 7 amino acids in the so-called serine protease domain” compared to the native coagulation factor, CEO Alexander Vos told Endpoints News.
“This insertion leaves sufficient clotting activity, whilst introducing virtually complete insensitivity to factor Xa DOACS,” he added, referring to oral factor Xa inhibitors.
Unlike Portola’s Andexxa — which is only approved to quickly disarm Eliquis and Xarelto — VarmX’s drug promises to counter the effect of any DOAC. The biotech said it’s also easier to administer and doesn’t lead to pro-thrombotic risk.
Reports suggest that 2% to 3% of the 10 million patients taking FXa DOACs experience spontaneous severe bleeding, Vos said, which could be life-threatening. And there are always patients on anticoagulants who need to restore some blood clotting functions for an emergency surgery.
The Series B is designed to put the drug through clinical proof-of-concept, all the way up to the threshold of registrational studies for both severe bleeding and emergency surgery.
At that point — and there’s no guarantee they will get there — VarmX will find itself facing off with Alexion, which bagged Portola and Andexxa in a $1.4 billion buyout in May. The acquisition valued Portola at $18 per share, a fraction of where it was at peak.
“The data generated so far suggests that VMX-C001 can become a differentiated treatment solution in an ever growing market,” Guillem Laporta, whose Ysios Capital co-led the financing with INKEF Capital, said in a statement.
Lundbeckfonden Ventures joined the round, together with existing investors BioGeneration Ventures and InnovationQuarter.
In addition to the lead program, the lean team of 5 at VarmX is developing reversal agents for future classes of anticoagulants, such as those targeting factor XI(a).