PhaseBio Pharmaceuticals announced the closing of $14.7 million in a financing mechanism called convertible notes that will help it advance the clinical development of PB1046, its lead candidate to treat rare diseases of the heart and lungs, including pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH).
PB1046 is a vasoactive intestinal peptide (VIP) receptor agonist, being developed as a weekly treatment for people with PAH, among other cardiopulmonary conditions, and for those with cystic fibrosis (CF). VIP is a naturally occurring 28-amino acid neuropeptide with vasodilatory (capable of widening blood vessels) and antifibrotic effects. Several cardiopulmonary diseases, such as pulmonary hypertension, are associated with changes in VIP properties or concentration.
This financing round will help set up a Phase 2 study, expected to begin this year, evaluating PB1046 as a PAH treatment. PhaseBio will also use the funds to assess PB1046 in other diseases, and to evaluate other pipeline products being developed using the company’s proprietary elastin-like polypeptide (ELP) technology platform.
ELP biopolymers work to control the half-life, bioavailability and physical characteristics of molecules for ease of administration, PhaseBio reports in its release. Compounds developed in this way are engineered for a specific rate of absorption to enhance effectiveness and reduce side effects, which is expected to lead to less-frequent dosing and better patient compliance.
“There is robust scientific evidence for the use of VIP receptor agonists for the treatment of cardiopulmonary diseases, and PB1046 is the first VIP analog to demonstrate potential for once-weekly dosing,” Jonathan P. Mow, PhaseBio’s chief executive officer, said in a press release. “This financing will enable PhaseBio to advance PB1046 in multiple orphan cardiopulmonary indications.”
PB1046 is also expected to provide vital clinical benefits to patients with several forms of cardiomyopathy and heart failure.
Multiple preclinical studies demonstrated the drug may be of significant benefit to PAH and other patients due to its positive contractility and relaxation effects, realized without an increase in myocardial oxygen demand.
“PhaseBio has the proven ability to identify novel drugs in therapeutic areas with high unmet need and to execute clinical development plans in an efficient manner,” said Justin Klein, MD, JD, a partner at New Enterprise Associates that took part in the financing round. “We anticipate that the team will further utilize these strengths to develop PB1046 for the treatment of pulmonary arterial hypertension and additional indications.”
Other investors include AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson, Hatteras Venture Partners, Syno Capital, and Fletcher Spaght Ventures.