Rare disease player rakes in a meaty $81M in Spain's biggest ever private biotech fundraise
Funding rounds in the United States for the life sciences industry often dwarf financing in Europe. Looks like rare disease biotech Sanifit is an anomaly. On Wednesday, the Spanish drug developer unveiled a nearly $81 million bounty — Spain’s largest-ever private biotech fundraise — ahead of a pivotal study for its lead experimental drug.
Sanifit, which was spun out of the University of the Balearic Islands in 2007, is working on a treatment for calciphylaxis, a rare disease characterized by calcium accumulation in small blood vessels of the fat and skin tissues — which lead to blood clots, skin ulcers and potentially life-threatening infections.
The disease, estimated to affect about 30,000 globally, typically afflicts those with chronic kidney disease. Although treatments such as painkillers are used to manage symptoms, there are no drugs approved to treat the etiology of the disease — which is what Sanifit’s SNF472 is designed to do.
The small molecule, derived from natural sources, is engineered to have an affinity for hydroxyapatite (HAP) crystals — the key component in calcification deposits. SNF472 binds to the growth sites of HAP, thereby thwarting their formation.
Last year, SNF472 was shown to help calciphylaxis patients undergoing dialysis in a Phase II study — a pivotal study is slated to kick off in the fourth quarter. Meanwhile, a separate mid-stage study testing the drug’s effect in slowing arterial calcification, a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease in patients on dialysis, is expected to read out by the end of the year.
“When we have additional data available, we will evaluate our options…be it private financing or an IPO,” Sanifit co-founder and chief Joan Perelló told Endpoints News.
For now, the company has 20 employees — it is headquartered in Palma, Spain, where the intellectual property is housed and preclinical research and manufacturing take place. It also has operations in San Diego, where a bulk of the clinical development is conducted.
So far, Sanifit has raised roughly $130 million, including the Series D round announced on Wednesday. This round encompassed €17 million in convertible bonds as well as €55.2 million in financing, led by Spain’s Caixa Capital Risc, with participation from Columbus Venture Partners and Alta Life Sciences, in addition to an international consortium of existing shareholders including Lundbeckfonden Ventures, Ysios Capital, Forbion Capital Partners, Gilde Healthcare, Andera Partners, HealthEquity and several private individuals.
“The landscape of life sciences in Spain is growing significantly. When we started the company…there were no…venture capitalists, almost no biotech companies,” Perelló noted.
As the Spanish government offers low-interest credit and incentives during the startup and growth phases of life science companies, activity in the Southwestern European country has picked up. Last year, Takeda swallowed TiGenix, a European cell therapy company headquartered in Belgium with operations in Madrid, Spain.