With bucks from Pfizer added to their new round, Amplyx steers a tricky course through PhII and a global pandemic
After beefing up its pipeline last year with an in-licensing deal from Novartis, San Diego-based Amplyx has lined up an extension of their C round, designed to pay their way through a slate of mid-stage trials putting their experimental drugs to the test in humans. And this time they’re getting some bucks from Pfizer to pay for the next leg in the development process.
The new money — a $53 million add to the first tranche in 2017 — brings their C round total to $90 million-plus, with Pfizer joining a syndicate that includes Sofinnova Venture Partners, with participation from existing investors including New Enterprise Associates, Lundbeckfonden Ventures, Arix Bioscience, Pappas Capital, RiverVest Venture Partners, 3×5 Partners and BioMed Ventures. Adage Capital was another new investor in the round, with Pfizer, which brings the biotech’s total raise to date to $140 million.
The recent raise will back a planned trial launch for the anti-BK virus drug they got from Novartis, dispatched after the pharma giant shut down its anti-infectives unit. That study had to be delayed, says CEO Ciara Kennedy, as it involves immune-compromised patients in need of a treatment like this. And right now, with the pandemic hampering all sorts of trial starts, recruiting immune-compromised patients for a study is no simple matter.
Their lead program is for fosmanogepix, an anti-fungal in Phase II studies for Candida infections. They’ve offered a positive snapshot of data from 10 patients to help demonstrate potential to investors, with additional mid-stage studies in patients with Aspergillus and other mold infections, as well as infections caused by multi-drug-resistant Candida auris.
“The money will see us into second half of ’21, through important data readouts,” says Kennedy.
Pfizer is a particularly good get for the syndicate, she adds. The pharma giant shepherded the last anti-fungal that made it to the market — 5 years ago. And the biotech has been crafting a strategy that keeps them focused on diseases with “fewer treatment options, where mortality is higher, so the willingness to use expensive drugs is much higher.”
That way Kennedy feels they can steer an anti-fungal course that takes them well clear of the antibiotic wreckage that has been piling up over the past year.
Kennedy isn’t making any specific predictions for where the company goes from Phase II to raise additional cash. That can still be decided later, after they get a chance to review their options on an IPO, a deal maybe, or more venture cash.
First, though, they have to get much more Phase II data to show investors.