Akari, Deciphera Both Nab $75 Million in Financing
Published: Sep 21, 2015
September 21, 2015
By Alex Keown, BioSpace.com Breaking News Staff
NEW YORK — Deciphera Pharmaceuticals and Akari Therapeutics both secured $75 million in funding, which will be used to advance the pipelines of both companies, the companies said in separate statements this morning.
Akari said the $75 million it raised will be used to advance the company’s lead product Coversin, a C5 complement inhibitor, through Phase II clinical trials in paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria (PNH), Guillain Barré syndrome (GBS) atypical, and Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome (aHUS). Gur Roshwalb, chief executive officer of Akari Therapeutics, said securing the funding will provide an exciting future for Akari as the company advances Coversin through clinical trials. C5 inhibition is growing in importance in a range of rare autoimmune diseases related to dysregulation of the complement component of the immune system. Coversin completed a Phase Ia fixed dose clinical trial in healthy subjects in 2014, and will be used in a follow-up chronic dosing Phase Ib clinical trial in healthy subjects later this year. Akari will initiate a compassionate use program in late 2015 to treat patients resistant to Soliris (eculizumab), the only currently approved treatment for PNH and aHUS. The company will then initiate Phase II clinical trials in several indications during 2016, including PNH, aHUS, and GBS.
“We believe that Coversin has potential to be the next and best-in-class C5 complement therapeutic and this financing provides us with the resources to advance our corporate and clinical goals,” Roshwalb said in a statement.
Akari’s fundraising announcement came on the heels of its $150 million acquisition of Volution Immuno Pharmaceuticals SA. Akari, previously known as Celsus Therapeutics, assumed its new name following the July acquisition of Volution. Participants in Akari’s fundraising include Deerfield, Venrock, Vivo Capital, Foresite Capital, New Enterprise Associates, QVT Financial and RA Capital Management.
Massachusetts-based Deciphera said its infusion of $75 million will allow the company to advance its pipeline of proprietary switch control kinase inhibitors, including altiratinib and DCC-2618, through multiple key clinical milestones. Altiratinib is currently in a late Phase I dose escalation study with Phase I expansion trials in patients with actionable MET genomic alterations expected to start early in 2016. DCC-2618 is expected to enter a first-in-human Phase I dose escalation trial before the end of the year.
In addition to altiratinib and DCC-2618, Deciphera’s pipeline includes rebastinib, a TIE2 kinase inhibitor; and a pan-RAF inhibitor (LY-3009120) being developed by partner Eli Lilly. Both of these candidates are in Phase I development. In addition, DCC-3014, Deciphera’s selective inhibitor of CSF1R, is currently in preclinical development.
Deciphera’s investors include New Leaf Venture Partners, the company said. Included in the fundraising deal, Deciphera said Liam Ratcliffe, managing director at New Leaf Venture Partners, will join its board of directors.
"We are very pleased to have secured significant funding from one of the preeminent life science investors, New Leaf Venture Partners, whose commitment to Deciphera reflects the strong potential of our unique switch control kinase inhibitors to address the unmet needs of patients with cancer," Michael Taylor, president and chief executive officer of Deciphera Pharmaceuticals said in a statement.