Spinifex Pharmaceuticals has announced that it has completed a US$45m Series C financing led by Novo A/S and joined by additional new investor Canaan Partners. Existing investors GBS Venture Partners, Brandon Capital Partners, Uniseed and UniQuest also participated.
The new funds will be used to advance the development of Spinifex’s lead candidate, EMA401, a novel angiotensin II type 2 (AT2) receptor antagonist being developed as a potential first-in-class oral treatment for chronic pain without CNS side effects.
The positive results of Spinifex’s Phase 2 clinical trial of EMA401 in postherpetic neuralgia (PHN) were recently published in The Lancet. PHN is a painful condition that develops in some patients following herpes zoster (shingles) and where existing therapy does not relieve pain in all individuals.
Spinifex is preparing to conduct a further, dose-ranging, Phase 2 trial of EMA401 in PHN patients, specifically studying the candidate’s efficacy over a 12-week time frame as would be required by the FDA during the eventual Phase 3 program.
The Company also intends to establish clinical proof-of-concept for EMA401 in neuropathic and inflammatory pain conditions such as osteoarthritis, chemotherapy induced neuropathy and peripheral diabetic neuropathy. This funding will also drive further pre-clinical research on AT2 receptor antagonists in pain, including the company’s follow on candidate program.
Spinifex’s CEO Tom McCarthy said: “To have attracted significant funding from two of the best-respected investors in global biotechnology is testament to the quality of the science behind Spinifex and our development work on EMA401 supported by our long-term investors. We look forward to rapidly advancing our clinical program and ultimately to bringing a much needed treatment option to patients with chronic pain.”
Heath Lukatch of Novo Ventures said: “Despite its prevalence and debilitating effect on patients, chronic pain remains poorly treated. Spinifex is taking an entirely novel approach and has delivered excellent clinical results in PHN as published in The Lancet. EMA401 was effective and well tolerated and thus showed potential to provide pain relief without the side effects, particularly CNS side effects, which limit the benefit of existing treatments for many patients. We are very pleased to be leading this round and to join Canaan Partners and the existing investors to support the next stage in EMA401’s progress.”
Brent Ahrens of Canaan Partners said: “It is very exciting to be investing in a company which has successfully translated novel basic science on a new pain pathway into clinical success. We have every confidence that Tom and his team will continue to deliver on EMA401’s potential in neuropathic pain and also in a wider range of diseases where patients can suffer chronic pain, such as osteoarthritis.”
Alongside the fundraising, Spinifex has established a US base in Stamford, Connecticut with CEO, Tom McCarthy, building and leading an expanded clinical development and corporate team. The Company will also continue to operate from its Melbourne facility in Australia.
Heath Lukatch Ph.D. and Steve Collins M.D. Ph.D., will join the Spinifex Board to represent Novo A/S, with Brent Ahrens of Canaan Partners also joining.