Biophytis raises $12M for trials of aging disease duo

French biotech Biophytis has raised the funds it needs to start midstage trials of two drugs for age-related diseases via a private placement.

The Paris-based company garnered €10.4 million (around $12 million) from the private placement involving U.S, and European investors, and says it will now move ahead with its trial plans for sarcopenic obesity candidate Sarconeos (BIO101) and Macuneos (BIO201) for dry age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

Biophytis was one of a crop of biotechs to list on the Parisian stock exchange in 2015, and said at the time it was planning to start phase 2b trials of its two lead candidates. In the interim it has raised additional funds through a series of private placements and started the process of recruiting patients and identifying clinical centers that can carry out the studies.

Now, the new placement means it can press ahead with a 26-week trial of Mas receptor nonpeptide agonist BIO101—called SARA-INT—that will involve 334 sarcopenic patients. It follows a six-month observational study (SARA-OBS) in three centers in the U.S. and eight in Europe at selecting patients for the interventional trial, which will be led by noted sarcopenia researcher Prof. Roger Fielding of Tufts University.

Sarcopenic obesity is a condition characterized by a combination of excess weight and low muscle mass that is currently managed using exercise. Biophytis hopes that BIO101 could become a new treatment option if as experimental work suggests it can boost muscle formation and reduce protein breakdown. It filed an investigational new drug (IND) application with FDA last month, after tweaking the protocol to take into account feedback from the EMA which said gait speed in a 400-meter walk test should be the primary outcome measure.

The new funding will also go towards MACA-PK, an international clinical trial of BIO201, a PPAR alpha-targeting drug that it believes can reduce oxidative stress and retinal cell death in patients with dry intermediate AMD—a condition that currently has no approved therapies.  

Both trials are intended to provide proof-of-concept for Biophytis two lead candidates and potentially set up licensing deals.

The biotech’s CEO Stanislas Veillet said that the raise will “enable us to significantly strengthen our shareholder structure, notably thanks to the support of leading American and European investors, who have shown their confidence in the potential of our therapeutic approach.”