Pliant and Annexon Seek and Secure Funds for Pulmonary Fibrosis, Autoimmune Treatments

Money Deals

There is much truth to the adage, “money makes the world go-'round,” especially regarding the biopharma industry. To that end, California-based Annexon, Inc. and Pliant Therapeutics both made efforts to secure additional financing to support their R&D endeavors.

Following positive data from a mid-stage trial evaluating an experimental treatment for idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) patients, Bay Area-based Pliant Therapeutics aims to raise $172.5 million by releasing additional shares of common stock. The company announced its intentions one day after its share price more than doubled after the Phase IIa data announcement. Pliant’s stock jumped from $8.88 per share on Friday to Monday’s closing price of $23. 

On Monday afternoon, as its stock continued to climb, Pliant said it commenced a public offering of $150 million worth of common stock and anticipates offering an additional $22.5 million of common shares to the underwriters.

Pliant said it will use the funds raised from this offering, as well as its existing cash, to finance its R&D programs, including PLN-74809, a small molecule dual selective inhibitor of αvß6 and αvß1 integrins under development for both idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis and primary sclerosing cholangitis. PLN-74809 has received both Fast Track Designation and Orphan Drug Designation from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in IPF.

In addition to PLN-74809, Pliant also developed PLN-1474, a small molecule selective inhibitor of αvß1 for the treatment of patients who have nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) with liver fibrosis. The company has partnered with Swiss pharma giant Novartis on the development of that asset. Earlier this year, PLN-1474 was transferred to Novartis for further development.

Annexon also scored a significant financial windfall. The company announced it closed a private placement valued at approximately $130 million. The financing is expected to be sufficient to fund the company’s operations into the second half of 2025. The Brisbane, Calif.-based company said the funds will be used for working capital and general corporate purposes.

Douglas Love, president and CEO of Annexon, expressed his gratitude for the funding. 

“This financing is an important strategic advancement for Annexon, providing meaningful funds to fuel our pipeline of multiple fit-for-purpose product candidates, including our first-of-its-kind oral, small molecule complement agent, ANX1502, for the treatment of classical complement-mediated autoimmune diseases,” Love said in a statement. “With an operating runway extended into the second half of 2025 and several clinical data readouts anticipated throughout 2022 and 2023, we believe we are well-positioned to execute both our near- and long-term goals.”

ANX1502 is a preclinical asset for autoimmune disorders. Last month, Annexon announced positive Phase II data from its lead candidate, AXN005, a C1q inhibitor under development for Huntington’s disease. Data showed that ANX005 safely stabilized disease progressionBioSpace reported at the time. In addition to Huntington’s disease, AXN005 is also being developed for Guillain-Barre syndrome, a rare disorder that causes the immune system to attack the nerves. 

The $130 million private placement was supported by Redmile Group, LLC, Adage Capital Partners LP, Bain Capital Life Sciences, Driehaus Capital Management, Fairmount, Satter Medical Technology Partners and Venrock Healthcare Capital Partners.

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