UPDATED: Novartis, Novo-backed antifungal biotech F2G raises $60M

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Just last week the U.K.’s biotech trade group the BIA released a report saying the 2015 was a real boon for native VC life science funds--and 2016 looks to set for another bumper year as U.K.-based F2G Ltd announced that it has raised $60 million.

F2G Ltd, which focuses on antifungal drug discovery and development, saw its latest round led by Sectoral Asset Management, with extra money coming from Novo A/S ($NOVO), Aisling Capital and Brace Pharma Capital.

Existing investors Advent Life Sciences LLP, Novartis Venture Fund ($NVS), Sunstone Capital and Merifin Capital also participated in the round. The Manchester, north England-based company raised $30 million back in 2012.

F2G is working on its new class of antifungal agents called orotomides, which the biotech says are active against Aspergillus and other rare and resistant moulds and act via a completely different mechanism than currently marketed antifungal agents.

The company says that whilst there is already a large market for these types of drugs, existing antifungal therapies have some safety limitations, while F2G estimates that around 10-30% of patients cannot tolerate any initial given therapy--something it hopes to better with its experimental therapy.

Due to their new mechanism of action, the biotech said that orotomides are also more attractive as they are active against infections resistant to current therapies--a growing global problem alongside antimicrobial resistance.

Flush with the new cash, F2G said it plans to advance its lead compound--F901318 for the treatment of invasive aspergillosis and other serious rare mould infections--to completion of a pivotal registration study, while also further developing earlier stage assets in its pipeline.

Aspergillosis is a serious pulmonary infection caused by Aspergillus, a common fungus that affects people with weakened immune systems or lung diseases.

Currently, a small PK Phase II clinical trial for F901318 is planned for the second half of 2016 with pivotal registration trials in invasive Aspergillosis planned for the first half of 2017, based on an accelerated regulatory pathway agreed with the relevant agencies. F901318 is being developed both as IV and oral formulations.

Ian Nicholson, CEO of F2G, said that despite the raise--which is a major pot for a U.K. biotech--this doesn’t mean that it was easy.

Speaking to FierceBiotech, he said: “In reality, it has been a really tough funding environment. Increasingly we are seeing U.S. investors looking for opportunities in the UK and continental Europe in general. If you have the right assets and pipeline, it goes a long way in being able to raise funding. The U.K. has a strong biotechnology and life science sector, and we hope that this momentum in access to finance and supporting companies through all stages of their development continues.”

But while VC raises have been coming, the IPO market remains battered by headwinds. Nicholson, when asked if he was considering taking the company public, said he will “monitor market conditions and may consider an IPO under the right circumstances once we have commenced our pivotal studies in 2017.”

As part of the raise, Dr Maha Katabi, a private equity partner at Sectoral Asset Management and Dr Martin Edwards, senior partner at Novo, will join the F2G Baord.

Dr Katabi added: "We look forward to working with the F2G team and a high quality venture capital syndicate to bring an important medicine to patients with life-threatening fungal infections. We have been impressed by the progress that F2G has made to date and are pleased to support its next phase of growth."

-check out the release

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