Anji Pharma nabs $70M for late-stage diabetes treatment, ex-Novartis asset

Anji Pharma wants to bring a Type 2 diabetes and chronic kidney disease treatment along with a constipation drug to market, and now the biotech has $70 million to bankroll clinical trials.

The Cambridge-based biotech raised the series B funds from venture capital firm CR Capital.

Financing will go toward a phase 3 trial of a Type 2 diabetes asset it acquired from Elcelyx Therapeutics in 2019 and a midstage constipation drug hopeful from Novartis. Anji also acquired an oncology program from the Broad Institute earlier this year.

The diabetes drug is a delayed-release formulation of metformin, which is sold under Bausch Health's Glumetza, Merck KGaA's Glucophage and Sun Pharma's Riomet brands. Some of the metformin drugs, like Riomet, have been recalled in the past two years due to cancer-causing concerns.

Anji is advancing the asset after snagging it from Elcelyx, which conducted a phase 2b study with 571 patients prior to selling it in May 2019. The phase 3 trial will be expanded to include patients with Type 2 diabetes who have severe chronic kidney disease next year, Anji said.

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The company's constipation asset, pradigastat, is in phase 2 trials in both the U.S. and China. Anji dished out $2 million to Novartis for the asset in December 2018. The Swiss Big Pharma squandered further development of the asset in 2016 after testing it in patients with familial chylomicronemia syndrome, a rare genetic disorder that stops the body from breaking down fats from food, in phase 2 studies.

Anji is slated to have data readouts on those phase 2 trials in mid-2022. The treatment aims to increase the fecal water content and bowel movement frequency in patients.

The company also acquired the worldwide rights to an MCL1 inhibitor program from the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard in June. The Mcl-1 gene promotes cancer cell survival and helps with the creation of tumors. Anji's pipeline also includes assets licensed from Capstone Therapeutics subsidiary LipimetiX Development.

Anji launched in 2018 and also has a subsidiary in Shanghai. The company previously closed a $26 million series A in June 2020 and an $8.5 million seed round in May 2018.