Hemab, still playing coy, gets its first major fundraise for hemophilia bispecifics
A company seeded by Novo’s incubator at the end of 2020 is taking its next step Thursday, emerging into the hemophilia space with a hefty Series A.
The Danish biotech Hemab is putting the bow on a $55 million round early Thursday, raised with money from Novo Seeds as well as prominent investor RA Capital. Seeing RA invest as early as a Series A raises the natural suspicion of a potential IPO, and newly-appointed CEO Benny Sorensen told Endpoints News he’d hoped to be asked about it.
But that doesn’t mean he’s giving away any free answers, demurring with “it depends.”
“We have tons of capital to advance programs right now, but the very clear mission for Hemab is to advance the company and generate further data,” Sorensen said. “Our clearly stated mission is to become a fully independent biotech company that discovers and launches pharmaceuticals for blood clotting disorders. We have to raise more capital in the future, but right now we’re excited to have plenty of capital.”
So what’s generating all the excitement behind Thursday’s raise? Hemab has been focusing on its lead candidate, a bispecific antibody the company is looking to evaluate in a “variety” of bleeding disorders, Sorensen said. The biotech revealed little back in December, and Sorensen again kept things close to the vest.
The only clue Sorensen dropped involves the “tremendous” amount of progress Hemab has made since that seed round seven months ago.
Regardless of what indication Hemab specifically goes after, Sorensen will be leading the company into an extremely crowded hemophilia market. The Danish biopharma Novo Nordisk, separate from the incubator that has funded Hemab thus far, has its own program in concizumab it hopes can compete against Roche giant Hemlibra.
Even though Novo Nordisk got a Phase III trial back on track last summer following safety issues back in March 2020, Hemlibra is a tough cookie to catch. The drug quickly reached blockbuster status after approval in October 2018 for routine prophylaxis to lessen bleeding episodes, tallying almost $2.4 billion in 2020 sales and another $720 million in the first quarter of 2021.
Roche is also looking to expand the drug into mild to moderate hemophilia A and released final positive analyses for a Phase IIIb study into hemophilia A patients with inhibitors to factor VIII last Monday. But Novo Seeds is chasing smaller patient population where there aren’t any approved treatments, managing partner Søren Møller told Endpoints.
“The program fits, it’s well positioned with rare bleeding disorders,” Møller said. “We take sort of that orphan niche approach. We do feel that this is a product that can easily work in the context of gene therapy and other approaches that are coming out.”
In addition to Novo Seeds and RA Capital, HealthCap co-lead Thursday’s round.