Months after formation, Spexis narrows focus to keep lights on into 2023

Spexis has run into trouble just months after its formation. With the ink barely dry on the merger that created it, the Swiss biotech is narrowing focus to stretch its cash runway out to January 2023. 

The biotech came into being at the start of the year when Polyphor, reeling from the failure of its cancer candidate balixafortide in phase 3, merged with EnBiotix. Combining the two biotechs created a pipeline led by ColiFin, a therapy for chronic lung infections in cystic fibrosis that won approval in Europe in 2010 but is yet to reach the U.S. The pipeline also features a clutch of other assets including balixafortide.

A $12.8 million pre-merger financing gave Spexis the cash to keep going into the third quarter of 2022. At one time, the biotech may have been able to quickly find investors willing to bet on its pipeline to gain time to advance its programs. But in the bear market of 2022, Spexis is yet to secure its future.

“Given the challenges in raising funds in this currently very difficult economic and geopolitical climate, it is imperative that we explore a wide variety of options to secure the funding we need to advance our programs as well as to prioritize our development work,” Jeff Wager, M.D., chairman and CEO of Spexis, said in a statement.

Spexis has renewed an equity-linked financing arrangement that could bring in 15 million Swiss francs ($15.6 million) through 2024 and is “actively pursuing a variety of other avenues to secure funding.” The list of avenues being pursued includes partnerships, traditional equity via current and new potential backers and “alternative financing strategies.”

The resources Spexis has will be focused on ColiFin, although the biotech will still lack the means to kick off the phase 3 program it wants to run. With Russia’s invasion of Ukraine disrupting its plans, Spexis aims to start one of the studies in the first half of next year, provided it can find the money. Spexis is also still reviewing the data on balixafortide and running a phase 1 trial of a lung disease candidate.