Cambridge-Based Biotech Scoops Up $46.7 Million in Funding Round

Published: Oct 06, 2017

Cambridge-Based Biotech Scoops Up $46.7 Million In Funding Round October 5, 2017
By Alex Keown, Breaking News Staff

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – Six months after scuttling plans to take the company public with a $50 million IPO, Visterra, Inc. was able to secure $47 million in series C financing.

That funding amount includes $23 million raised in 2016 and an additional $23.6 million, the company said on Wednesday.

The infusion of capital will be used to advance the company’s two lead drug candidates VIS410 and VIS649. Visterra said the series C funds will also help the company leverage its Hierotope platform that includes ViStar antibody engineering capabilities. Visterra’s Hierotope platform is used to identify unique disease targets and then “design and engineer precision antibody-based biological medicines” against those targets.

Brian Pereira, president and chief executive officer of Visterra, said the next 18 months should be pivotal for the Massachusetts-based company. Pereira said there are several key milestones the company anticipates, including top-line results from a Phase IIa and IIb trial for VIS410. The IIa trial is focused on treating ambulatory patients with influenza A. The Phase IIb VIS410 trial is focused on treating hospitalized patients with influenza A regardless of viral strain. The Phase IIb trial is expected to be a primary focus of the series C funding, the company said. Top-line results are expected in early 2018.

Periera also pointed to the initiation of clinical trials for its VIS649 drug candidate, an IgA nephropathy product. VIS649 has shown promising results in animal models and Visterra is moving that product to a Phase I clinical trial. Visterra is also working in partnership with the Serum Institute of India to develop VIS513, an antibody for the treatment of dengue, Periera added.

In addition, a portion of the proceeds will be used to further develop the company’s ViStar antibody Fc engineering capabilities, which are focused on developing novel modifications to the Fc region of an antibody to enhance half-life and improve effector function.

“Our Hierotope platform has been very productive in generating a range of promising therapeutic antibodies beyond VIS410, VIS513 and VIS649. As we continue to apply and further enhance our Hierotope platform, including our novel ViStar antibody Fc engineering capabilities, we will consider collaborations with strategic partners relating to these capabilities and for select assets generated from our platform,” Periera said in a statement.

The financing round was supported by existing partners, including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, MRL Ventures Fund, Vertex Venture Holdings Ltd., Polaris Partners, Flagship Pioneering, Omega Funds, Cycad Group and Alexandria Venture Investments. New investors into Visterra include Serum Institute of India Pvt. Ltd., CTI Life Sciences and Allegheny Financial Group.

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