Aerpio Therapeutics, a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical spin off of Akebia Therapeutics based in Cincinnati, Ohio, has closed a $27 million Series A financing.
The proceeds will support ongoing development of Aerpio's pipeline, including AKB-9778, which is entering phase Ib/IIa trials for the treatment of diabetic macular edema (DME).
"The activation of Tie2 by AKB-9778 has demonstrated promising activity in multiple models of retinal disease characterized by edema and neovascularization. Based on these findings, we believe that AKB-9778 could play an important role in the treatment of DME and potentially age-related macular degeneration and retinal vein occlusion," said Dr. Joseph Garner, president and CEO of Aerpio. "The $27 million financing will provide sufficient funding to complete a phase Ib/IIa study, which will begin shortly, as well as a large definitive phase II study in DME patients."
"Aerpio is already making significant progress in its lead program, AKB-9778, so we're very pleased to be supporting further clinical development of this promising compound," said Campbell Murray, managing director at Novartis BioVentures, the company that led the financing round. "The Tie2 pathway is emerging as a prime target for stabilizing retinal blood vessels against excessive vascular leak and pathologic vascular growth, two major drivers of vision loss in diabetics. Although VEGF inhibitors have shown application in DME, significant unmet needs remain for these patients. We believe that AKB-9778 could prove to be more effective in DME than currently available therapies, while offering a safety and tolerability profile that is potentially more favorable."
The financing round included Novartis BioVentures, Venture Investors LLC, Triathlon Medical Ventures, Kearny Venture Partners, Athenian Venture Partners and AgeChem Venture Fund.