A low-profile biotech working in the outskirts of Berlin has secured €24 million ($27 million) to make a dent in the notoriously high mortality rate of septic shock, with major backing from storied European firms Wellington Partners and HBM Healthcare Investments.
While the round is technically a Series D, it marks the first “actual investment” for the 12-person crew at Adrenomed, which has been running its operation so far using internal funding since its creation by former execs of the diagnostics firm BRAHMS — best known for its flagship sepsis product — in 2009.
When Thermo Fischer $TMO acquired BRAHMS that year for $470 million, Adrenomed co-founder and chief business officer Frauke Hein told me, she and her colleagues — some of whom received generous payouts — left with the knowledge of “exactly which target has to be treated to make a difference in developing a (sepsis) therapeutic.”
That target, a peptide hormone dubbed adrenomedullin, is a biomarker elevated in 70% of all septic shock patients, she said. With adrecizumab, Adrenomed believes it can redistribute adrenomedullin to the endothelial layer lining blood vessels, thereby plugging capillary leakage and reversing low blood pressure — a defining characteristic of septic shock as the body injures itself trying to fight off an infection. Ultimately, Hein added, the goal is to restore what they call vascular integrity, which is crucial to regulating what goes into arteries and veins.
Enrollment is ongoing for the proof-of-concept trial taking place in Europe. Data from the 300-patient study are expected by early 2020, Hein said.
Meanwhile, the team is also having conversations with the FDA. The agency has been “open and helpful” with Adrenomed’s plans to potentially conduct a Phase III trial in the US, CEO Gerald Moeller said.
According to the CDC, sepsis is a major killer in the US, responsible for more than a quarter million deaths each year, and an estimated 6 million global deaths annually, although the company’s ambitions won’t stop there.
The concept of vascular integrity underlies the pathophysiology of a variety of indications of varying severity, including severe heart failure, pulmonary edema and tissue congestion, Hein said. “This proof-of-concept study, with the most severe indication in that field, brings us into a position to discuss (our program) with a variety of pharmaceutical top-tier companies.”
Existing investors Investitionsbank des Landes Brandenburg and ExpoCapital joined the round alongside other existing private supporters.
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