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Austin Biotech Savara Nets $20M in Series C for Phase 3 Study

Xconomy Texas — 

Austin — [Corrected 3/1/16, 11:27 p.m. See below.] A year after releasing results from a Phase 2 clinical trial, Savara Pharmaceuticals has announced $20 million in Series C funding that it will use to take its inhaled version of an antibiotic to Phase 3.

Savara, based in Austin, TX, plans to begin enrollment in the Phase 3 study at the end of 2016 after it completes the selection of an expected 80 research sites in the U.S. and Canada. The company says it is developing the first inhaled antibiotic for the methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) lung infection in people with cystic fibrosis, a treatment it calls AeroVanc.

In February 2015, Savara announced it met the primary endpoint in the Phase 2 trial, which attempted to measure if AeroVanc could reduce the density of MRSA—bacteria that commonly cause infections—in patients’ sputum compared to a placebo. Cystic fibrosis causes mucus to build up in the lungs, among other problems, making it fertile ground for infection-causing bugs like MRSA or pseudmonas aeruginosa, as Xconomy’s Angela Shah wrote when covering Savara’s $10 million Series B in 2014. [Corrected date of Phase 2 data release.]

In comparison to the placebo, AeroVanc also held clinically meaningful improvements in pulmonary function and in respiratory symptoms, among other details, Savara said last week.

AeroVanc would be an inhaled version of a generic drug that has been around for more than 50 years, vancomycin. The drug has typically been administered intravenously, though there are other oral applications.

Savara contends that inhaling the drug directly to the lungs will deliver more of the treatment to the problem area, potentially increasing its effectiveness. Plus, the method reduces the likelihood of exposing the drug to other areas of the body, which the company hopes will reduce side effects. The AeroVanc device is meant to be convenient, too, the company says.

Founded in 2007, Savara had previously received $29 million in financing. The Series C investors are boutique life science investment firms and family offices, according to a spokesman, who declined to provide specific names. Previous investors include Tech Coast Angels, Keiretsu Forum, the Central Texas Angel Network, and the North Texas Angel Network, as well as grants from the Texas Emerging Technology Fund, the National Institutes of Health, and the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.