Ansun BioPharma Closes $85 Million Series A Financing
Ansun Biopharma, based in San Diego, closed on a Series A financing round worth $85 million. The round was led by Sinopharm Healthcare Fund and Lilly Asia Ventures. New investors included Lyfe Capital, Yuanming Capital, Matrix Partners China, 3e Bioventures Capital, Oceanpine Capital, VI Ventures, and Joincap Investment.
The company plans to use the funds raised for a Phase III clinical trial of its experimental anti-viral drug, DAS181. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) gave the drug Breakthrough Therapy Designations in October 2017, for the treatment of lower respiratory tract parainfluenza virus (PIV) infection in patients who are immunocompromised. It also received Fast Track designation.
DAS181 takes a unique host-directed approach to blocking respiratory viruses. It cleaves sialic acid receptors in the human respiratory tract, which are linked by most of the major respiratory viruses during infection. It has shown antiviral activity in three of the four major respiratory viruses, influenza virus (IFV), parainfluenza virus (PIV) and metapneumovirus (MPV), as well as human enterovirus-68 (EV-68). The way it acts makes it more difficult for viruses to depend on sialic acid receptor.
Late last year it completed a Phase II trial of DAS181 for PIV infection in hospitalized, immunocompromised patients. The company has also worked with the FDA to make the compound available for treatment of more than 130 pediatric and adult patients through its compassionate use program. “We are excited about this designation and a look forward to continuing to work closely with the Division of Antiviral products at the FDA as we plan and implement a Phase III study for this severely ill patient population,” said George Wang, Ansun’s chief technical officer, in an October 2017 statement.
In addition to the financing, Xiaoming Yang from Sinopharm Capital and Yi Shi from Lilly Asia Ventures are joining Ansun’s board of directors. Donald Payne and Michael Chao are also joining the board. Existing board members are Allen Chao, Nancy Chang and Michael Chang.
“We are delighted to secure this strong financial support from some of the most highly regarded biotechnology investment groups in the world,” said Nancy Chang, Ansun’s interim chief executive officer, in a statement. “And just as important, if not more important, than their financial support is the depth of knowledge and experience our board will gain with our new board members.”
About 55,000 to 200,000 patients in hospital in the U.S. are diagnosed with PIV annually. They are often in immunocompromised patients including those undergoing chemotherapy, solid organ transplants and hematopoietic stem cell transplants. If DAS181 makes it through Phase III trials and is approved, it could become the first product specifically approved for this medical need.
The company has two programs. One is for influenza, the other is for the PIV infections.
“We are very pleased to be leading this round in Ansun against a backdrop of increasing threat worldwide from very dangerous respiratory infectious diseases like influenza and parainfluenza,” Xiaoming Yang said in a statement. “We look forward to working closely with the company, its board of directors and its management to rapidly progress the development of DAS181 so that it can benefit as many people as quickly as possible.”