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.

Joan Perel­ló Bioib

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.

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His­toric drug pric­ing re­forms pass; Pfiz­er ac­quires GBT; The long search for non-opi­oid pain drugs; and more

Welcome back to Endpoints Weekly, your review of the week’s top biopharma headlines. Want this in your inbox every Saturday morning? Current Endpoints readers can visit their reader profile to add Endpoints Weekly. New to Endpoints? Sign up here.

The Endpoints Weekly has officially crossed the 60,000 mark on subscribers — thanks to all of your support. As the editorial team grows, we’ve been able to do a lot more, with many of those on display this week. Be sure to check out Lei Lei Wu’s deep dive on pain R&D. If you missed it, you may also rewatch her companion panel here.

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Gold for adults, sil­ver for in­fants: Pfiz­er's Pre­vnar 2.0 head­ed to FDA months af­ter Mer­ck­'s green light

Pfizer was first to the finish line for the next-gen pneumococcal vaccine in adults, but Merck beat its rival with a jab for children in June.

Now, two months after Merck’s 15-valent Vaxneuvance won the FDA stamp of approval for kids, Pfizer is out with some late-stage data on its 20-valent shot for infants.

Known as Prevnar 20 for adults, Pfizer’s 20vPnC will head to the FDA by the end of this year for an approval request in infants, the Big Pharma said Friday morning. Discussions with the FDA will occur first and more late-stage pediatric trials are expected to read out soon, informing the regulatory pathway in other countries and regions.

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No­var­tis re­ports two pa­tient deaths af­ter treat­ment with Zol­gens­ma

Two children with spinal muscular atrophy have died after receiving Novartis’ Zolgensma, a gene therapy designed as a one-time treatment for the rare fatal disease.

The deaths, which resulted from acute liver failure, occurred in Russia and Kazakhstan, Novartis confirmed in a statement to Endpoints News. Having notified health authorities across all the markets where Zolgensma is available, it will update the drug label “to specify that fatal acute liver failure has been reported,” a spokesperson wrote.

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House pass­es his­toric drug pric­ing re­forms, lin­ing up decades-in-the-mak­ing win for Biden and De­moc­rats

The US House of Representatives today voted along party lines (all Dems voted for it), 220-207 to pass new, wide-ranging legislation that will allow Medicare drug price negotiations for the first time ever, and cap seniors’ drug expenses to $2,000 per year and seniors’ insulin costs at $35 per month.

Setting up a major victory for President Joe Biden, representatives returned from their summer recess to pass the Inflation Reduction Act, even as many noted the bill would only modestly reduce inflation.

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Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden (D-OR) (Francis Chung/E&E News/POLITICO via AP Images)

Sen­ate Fi­nance chair con­tin­ues his in­ves­ti­ga­tion in­to phar­ma tax­es with re­quests for Am­gen

Amgen is the latest pharma company to appear on the radar of Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden (D-OR), who is investigating the way pharma companies are using subsidiaries in low- or zero-tax countries to lower their tax bills.

Like its peers Merck, AbbVie and Bristol Myers Squibb, Wyden notes how Amgen uses its Puerto Rico operations to consistently pay tax rates that are substantially lower than the U.S. corporate tax rate of 21%, with an effective tax rate of 10.7% in 2020 and 12.1% in 2021.

FDA ap­proves sec­ond in­di­ca­tion for As­traZeneca and Dai­ichi's En­her­tu in less than a week

AstraZeneca and Daiichi Sankyo’s antibody-drug conjugate Enhertu scored its second approval in less than a week, this time for a subset of lung cancer patients.

Enhertu received accelerated approval on Thursday to treat adults with unresectable or metastatic non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) whose tumors have activating HER2 (ERBB2) mutations, and who have already received a prior systemic therapy.

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J&J to re­move talc prod­ucts from shelves world­wide, re­plac­ing with corn­starch-based port­fo­lio

After controversially spinning out its talc liabilities and filing for bankruptcy in an attempt to settle 38,000 lawsuits, Johnson & Johnson is now changing up the formula for its baby powder products.

J&J is beginning the transition to an all cornstarch-based baby powder portfolio, the pharma giant announced on Thursday — just months after a federal judge ruled in favor of its “Texas two-step” bankruptcy to settle allegations that its talc products contained asbestos and caused cancer. An appeals court has since agreed to revisit that case.

CSL is gathering its four business units under a unified brand identity strategy (Credit: CSL company site)

CSL brings Se­qirus, Vi­for un­der par­ent um­brel­la brand in iden­ti­ty re­vamp

CSL is gathering its brands under the family name umbrella, renaming its vaccine and newly acquired nephrology specialty businesses with the parent initials.

CSL Seqirus and CSL Vifor join CSL Plasma and CSL Behring as the four now uniformly branded business units of the global biopharma. The Seqirus vaccine division was formed in 2015 with the combination of bioCSL and its purchase of Novartis’ flu vaccine business. CSL picked up Vifor Pharma late last year in an $11.7 billion deal for the nephrology, iron deficiency and cardio-renal drug developer.

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