Dallas Business Journal by Bill Hethcock, Staff Writer
Specialty pharmaceutical company ZS Pharma Inc. has raised $46 million to advance development of ZS-9, a crystal form of zirconium silicate, designed to treat patients with kidney and liver disease.
The funding will allow the privately held Fort Worth company to proceed with trials for ZS-9 as it prepares for commercialization of the product.
Alta Partners led the new round of financing, joined by new investors RiverVest Venture Partners, 3x5 Special Opportunity Partners and Salem Partners, and by current investor Devon Park Bioventures.
ZS Pharma has developed a compound that selectively removes life-threatening toxins from patients suffering from kidney and liver disease and related conditions. Initial human clinical testing focused on patients with hyperkalemia, or elevated levels of potassium in their blood.
“We are very excited to partner with our new investors to further develop novel treatments for hyperkalemia and other unmet medical needs,” said Al Guillem, ZS Pharma’s president and CEO.
Darlene M. Ryan, executive director of the a nonprofit business incubator TECH Fort Worth, called it “a thrill” to work with ZS Pharma. She said it’s the biggest round of funding a company hatched in the incubator has ever landed.
“Venture capitalists do not invest $46 million without believing in this drug and in this team,” Ryan said.
As part of this deal, Robert Alexander, general partner of Alta Partners, and John McKearn, managing partner of RiverVest Venture Partners, will join the ZS Pharma Board of Directors.
ZS Pharma, founded in 2008, has further plans to research and develop other compounds targeting kidney and liver disease — conditions with limited treatment options today.