Pharvaris lands another $80M as it looks to tackle Takeda and CSL with an oral approach for HAE
A year after their $66 million launch, the Swiss upstart Pharvaris has managed to convince another fleet of new and returning investors to back their upstart approach for a rare genetic condition called hereditary angioedema, or HAE.
The company said Wednesday that they’ve raised an $80 million Series C led by Viking Global Investors and General Atlantic. They’ll plow that cash directly into a pair of Phase II trials to test whether their lead molecule can become the first oral drug to successfully treat and prevent the painful episodes HAE triggers.
A handful of effective therapies already exist for HAE, a disease characterized by painful swelling in hands, feet and occasionally in the airways or intestinal walls. But the drugs, including CSL’s Haegarda and Takeda’s Cinryze, Takhzyro and Firazyr, are all injectable.
The disease is marked by a deficiency in the blood plasma protein C1 esterase inhibitor and both Haegarda and Cinryze try to boost the level of that protein in the blood. Firazyr, though, blocks bradykinin, a blood protein that is overproduced in HAE patients and directly causes blood cells to leak and tissues to swell.
Founded by Berndt Modig, their CEO, and other veterans from Jerini, the biotech that originally developed Firazyr, Pharvaris is trying to develop a molecule that blocks the same bradykinin receptor but with a pill. Last week, they released Phase I data from 16 healthy volunteers that they say suggest their molecule is 24 times as potent as Firazyr.
The company will now launch two Phase II trials, one for prophylaxis and one for treating acute pain. If those are successful, they’ll follow on in with pivotal Phase III studies.
They are also developing a new formulation that they plan to eventually use in prophylaxis trials instead of the current one.
The challenges in getting there will be significant, though. Other companies have struggled to develop oral HAE treatments in the past. Most notably, BioCryst saw their shares cut in half last year after Phase III results fell short of investor expectations.
Meanwhile, although the company is confident that patients want an oral option, the injectables are already highly effective and entrenched. Takhzyro, the newest one on the market, is expected to be a blockbuster.