AstraZeneca spinout Viela Bio has raised $75 million to take anti-CD19 antibody inebilizumab toward approval. The series B round comes 16 months after Viela broke free from AstraZeneca with six drugs and $250 million in funding.
Since then, a late-phase trial of inebilizumab in patients with neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorder (NMOSD) has hit its primary endpoint, teeing Viela up to file for FDA approval later in the year.
To fund the filing and pre-commercial work, Viela has brought additional investors on board. HBM Healthcare Investments led the series B with the support of new investors including Viking Global Investors, Cormorant Asset Management, Terra Magnum Capital Partners, Goldman Sachs and Barer & Son Capital. Temasek was among the existing investors to contribute to the series B.
The willingness of the investors to add to Viela’s coffers reflects the potential of inebilizumab. In the late-phase trial, patients with the rare autoimmune disease NMOSD experienced a 77% reduction in the risk of suffering an attack. NMOSD attacks can lead to blindness and paralysis.
Viela’s top priority is to bring the drug to market in NMOSD, a condition for which there are no FDA-approved treatments. The Maryland-based biotech is also interested in developing inebilizumab in other indications—AstraZeneca trialed the antibody in multiple sclerosis, systemic scleroderma and B-cell malignancies—and in advancing the other assets it picked up from its parent company.
The series B will support that expanded development program, giving Viela the financial means to start to realize the potential of the drugs it picked up from AstraZeneca. Viela is also in line to receive cash from Hansoh Pharmaceutical through a $220 million deal for the Chinese rights to inebilizumab. Hansoh talked up the potential to broaden use of the drug by pairing it with other therapies.