31-Year-Old Biotech Guru Brings in Another $55 Million for Axovant

Published: Feb 06, 2017

31-Year-Old Biotech Guru Brings in Another $55 Million for Axovant February 3, 2017
By Alex Keown, BioSpace.com Breaking News Staff

BASEL, Switzerland – Prolific biotech fundraiser Vivek Ramaswamy, chief executive officer of Axovant Sciences , snagged $55 million from Hercules Capital, Inc. as part of a debt financing agreement.

Ramaswamy said the financing will provide Axovant “additional flexibility to pursue its mission of developing comprehensive solutions for patients with dementia.”

Under the deal, Axovant will pay off interest over a period of 18 months, then will begin to pay back the principal until the loan matures on March 1, 2021. The interest-only period may be extended to 24 months contingent upon Axovant achieving of certain clinical development milestones. In connection with the debt financing, Axovant issued Hercules a warrant to purchase up to 274,086 of its common shares at an exercise price of $12.04 per share.

Scott Bluestein, chief investment officer at Hercules Capital, said the deal will allow Axovant to continue to advance its pipeline.

"This investment in Axovant provides another example of our ability to finance life sciences companies through multiple stages of development and through various value inflection points,” Bluestein said in a statement.

Axovant is developing therapies for Alzheimer’s disease. The company’s lead candidate was acquired from GlaxoSmithKline . Bermuda-based Axovant acquired RVT-101 from GSK in December for $5 million, plus additional milestone payments if the drug is approved. RVT-101 is a neurotransmitter targeted therapy that works through the release of acetylcholine. In October, the company began screening patients for a Phase III trial in Alzheimer’s.

In addition to RVT-101, Axovant is also developing nelotanserin, for the visual hallucinations caused by Alzheimer’s disease and Lewy body dementia. Phase II data on 20 patients in the trial is expected to be announced sometime this month.

In September, Axovant received Fast Track Designation from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for its investigational drug intepirdine in the treatment of dementia with Lewy bodies. The drug is currently in a Phase IIb trial.

Ramaswamy is known for his charm and his ability to put together deals. The 31-year-old Ramaswamy was behind one of the biggest IPOs in 2016, securing $218 million. For Myovant Sciences , a company he founded. Myovant was spun out o Hamilton, Bermuda-based Roivant Sciences, the same company that launched Axovant in 2014.

As BioSpace previously reported, Ramaswamy is known not only for his ability to raise funds, but also his knack for being able to secure drugs that have been discarded by larger pharmaceutical companies for development. His approach is to buy them for pennies on the dollar in hopes of turning out a big profit.

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