Pathalys inks development deal with Abingworth company, raising $150M
Pathalys Pharma, a private biotech co-founded by Japanese VC Catalys Pacific and DaVita Venture Group in late 2020 to focus on chronic kidney disease, announced Wednesday morning it reached a deal with Launch Therapeutics to advance two Phase III trials for a drug designed to treat a parathyroid condition for hemodialysis patients. The drug is called upacicalcet, also known as PLS240.
As part of the deal, Pathalys also raised $150 million in secured product financing and equity to push upacicalcet through Phase III and to support a potential launch if it’s approved. Abingworth led the round, while Carlyle and OrbiMed joined in, as did Catalys Pacific and DaVita Venture Group.
In return for the investment, Pathalys retains worldwide commercial rights to upacicalcet outside Japan and Asia. The product financing funding gets paid back out of revenues of the drug.
The drug, so far Pathalys’ only drug in its pipeline, is a calcimimetic — a type of drug that mimics the action of calcium on tissues. Other calcimimetics already approved in the US come from Big Pharma Amgen, with its brand drugs Sensipar and Parsabiv indicated to treat hyperparathyroidism.
Pathalys’ drug was approved as Upasita in Japan back in 2021 for secondary hyperparathyroidism in dialysis patients — the same condition it’s shooting for in the US. The drug was developed by EA Pharma, which kicked off in 2016 as a gastrointestinal disease biotech formed by Eisai Group and Ajinomoto Group.
Pathalys got the license to develop the drug in US and Europe in 2021, CEO Neal Fowler told Endpoints News.
Launch Therapeutics, which kicked off in 2022, is essentially the drug development arm of Carlyle and its-now life science subsidiary Abingworth. Fowler said that while the company was in discussions with investors to find capital for Phase III trials, Pathalys became familiar with Launch after starting discussions with Abingworth.
Carlyle, the private equity giant, leapt into the biotech investment scene last year when it bought out Abingworth. At the time of the deal, Abingworth and Carlyle brought Launch Therapeutics into the fold — which takes on clinical trial risk in exchange for a share of the profits.
Launch Therapeutics will have the lead role in executing and managing the clinical trials, while Pathalys will be responsible for manufacturing, commercialization and working with the FDA. The two identical trials, expected to launch in the first half of this year, will enroll 375 patients each and last for 20 months. Fowler said by that timeline, data will read out in early 2025.
Fowler said that while the company is excited to get its first clinical trial underway, Pathalys has bigger ambitions — and wants to expand into multiple assets in chronic kidney disease.
“It’s just the beginning, and we’re eager to get moving,” Fowler added.