Memorandum

Vascular Pharma raises $16 million in Series A financing; gives J&J exclusive rights to acquire the company – September 27, 2012

Executive Highlights

  • Vascular Pharma raised $16 million in its Series A financing round, which will be used to fund the initial clinical development of its lead compound, the diabetic nephropathy candidate VPI-2690B.
  • Vascular Pharma revealed a deal that gives Janssen Biotech the exclusive right to acquire the company following the completion of a planned phase 2 trial for VPI-2690B.

Earlier this month, the small biotech Vascular Pharma raised $16 million in its Series A round of financing, co-led by Intersouth Partners and MPM Capitol. The funds will be used to advance Vascular Pharma’s preclinical diabetic nephropathy candidate, VPI-2690B, into phase 2 testing; the company expects to file for investigational new drug (IND) approval in 2H13. VPI-2690B is a monoclonal antibody that targets the insulin-like growth factor-1 signaling pathway, which is stimulated by hyperglycemia and promotes smooth muscle and endothelial cell growth (possibly giving VPI-2690B a role in preventing a number of diabetes complications beyond kidney disease). The future of Vascular Pharma will be inextricably tied to the success of the phase 2 study of VPI-2690B, as the company has also announced a deal that gives Janssen Biotech, a subsidiary of J&J, exclusive rights to acquire the company pending trial results. Under the agreement, Janssen will pay an undisclosed upfront fee to Vascular Pharma, as well as contingent milestone payments for its right to acquire Vascular Pharma. If Janssen chooses to exercise this right, VPI-2690B would be the only drug J&J has in its pipeline targeting diabetic nephropathy.

Abbott currently has the largest diabetic nephropathy pipeline, with three drugs in development. Abbott/Reata’s bardoxolone methyl, an antioxidant inflammation modulatory, is being studied in phase 3, with the BEACON study actively recruiting (ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier: NCT01351675). In a September 2010 deal with Reata, Abbott gained rights to bardoxolone methyl in international markets, excluding Japan, China, Korea, Taiwan, and Southeast Asia; Reata retained marketing rights in the US. Second, Abbott’s in-house treatment for chronic kidney disease (CKD) atrasentan (ABT-627), an endothelin-A receptor (ETAR) antagonist, remains in phase 2 with two ongoing safety and efficacy studies (ClinicalTrials.gov Identifiers: NCT01356849 and NCT01399580) originally scheduled to complete last month and this month, respectively. Third, Abbott’s ABT-614 just completed a phase 1b study in patients with CKD, according to the most recent August 21 update on ClinicalTrials.gov (Identifier: NCT01464320). While the mechanism for ABT-614 is unknown, a prior phase 1 study investigated its binding activity to the dopamine receptor D3 in the brain (for additional information, please see our Abbott 2Q12 report at http://www.closeconcerns.com/knowledgebase/r/925c112b). Concert Pharmaceuticals is also investigating a treatment for diabetic nephropathy (CTP-499) in one phase 2 trial, with results expected in mid-2013 (further details are available at http://www.closeconcerns.com/knowledgebase/r/cfbe27f2).

-- by Kira Maker and Kelly Close