Acelyrin scores series C that brings total raised in less than a year past $500M

Any biotech that can rake in half a billion dollars from investors in 12 months is clearly doing something right. The $300 million series C funding round Acelryin announced this morning means the inflammatory-disease-focused drug developer has reached that marker and now has its sights set on entering late-stage trials.

The Los Angeles-based company’s lead asset, izokibep, is an antibody mimetic interleukin-17A (IL-17A) inhibitor designed to overcome the limitations of monoclonal antibodies. The likes of Novartis and Eli Lilly have validated IL-17 with drugs like Cosentyx and Taltz, respectively. Acelyrin will be hoping for similar success.

After a phase 2 trial showed the drug was well tolerated in psoriatic arthritis, the biotech wants to use its new funds to push the therapy into phase 3 trials for both psoriatic arthritis and axial spondyloarthritis, hopefully followed by a submission for FDA approval.

Acelyrin secured the rights to izokibep in the U.S., EU, Japan and certain other territories from Affibody for $25 million upfront last year. The Swedish biotech will be hoping Acelyrin’s drive to FDA approval pays off, as it’s in line for a $280 million windfall in milestone payments if the drug reaches certain regulatory and sales goals.

With the latest money in hand, Acelyrin will also continue to explore izokibep for the skin condition hidradenitis suppurativa and a type of eye inflammation called uveitis, as well as other undisclosed indications. Judging by the company’s release, there will even be money left over to “continue to aggressively pursue portfolio expansion through high-value business development opportunities.”

Referring to izokibep’s phase 2 readout and in particular a demonstrated ability to reduce inflammation around where the tendons and ligaments attach to bone, known as enthesitis, Acelyrin CEO Shao-Lee Lin, M.D., Ph.D., said the drug could meaningfully improve patients' lives.

“These results led us to accelerate planned phase 3 development for PsA and AxSpA—two diseases where enthesitis plays a key role,” Lin explained in the press release announcing the series C.

The latest funding round, which follows a $250 million series B in November 2021, was led by Access Biotechnology and featured Acelyrin’s existing investors AyurMaya, Westlake Village BioPartners, Cowen Healthcare Investments, Decheng Capital, Marshall Wace, OrbiMed, Samsara BioCapital, Surveyor Capital, Tybourne Capital Management and venBio Partners.