Sangart raises $50M to fund critical Ph2b ischemia study

Investors have anted up $50 million to back Sangart's ambitious effort to develop a molecule that can carry badly needed oxygen to various tissue targets in the body. Leucadia National Corporation led the round, which brings Sangart's total venture haul over the years to an impressive $230 million.

Sangart's focus is on MP4, a molecule designed to transport oxygen as well as carbon monoxide through the circulatory system to prevent and treat ischemia and to stabilize the hemoglobin of sickle cell disease patients. The treatment is not a blood substitute, company officials emphasize, but rather is being advanced in its lead program as an adjunct therapy for trauma patients who have lost blood in an accident or on the battlefield.

The new round positions the San Diego-based biotech to tackle a crucial stage of development. The developer restructured back in 2009 shortly after the arrival of Brian O'Callaghan as the new CEO. The workforce dropped from 90 to 40 as the CEO took Sangart from a late-stage company back into the mid-stage level as it went after specific trauma data, O'Callaghan tells FierceBiotech. But the company has been back on the rise, building up a workforce that is now at 69 and putting mothballed facilities back online. Now that a successful Phase IIa study has been completed, the new money will be used to mount a critical Phase IIb for trauma patients.

"We'll have interim data by the end of this year and final data in the middle of next year," says O'Callaghan. At that point, he adds, Sangart should be able to demonstrate what the company is worth. "We can either raise more money or exit through a buyout or perhaps do a partnership," he says. And while the IPO market is shaky now, it might be an option at a later point.

- here's the Sangart release

ALSO: San Diego-based Tracon Pharmaceuticals announced the successful 1st tranche closing of a $14 million private venture round from new investors. The financing was led by JAFCO and Nextech Invest who were joined by Arcus Ventures and BHP. Existing investor Brookline Investments also participated. Kenji Harada, PhD and Hironori Hozoji at JAFCO, and Myoung-Ok Kwon, PhD, Managing Partner at Nextech Invest, will join TRACON's board of directors. The money is earmarked for development of the antibody TRC105, an inhibitor of angiogenesis that is being developed in multiple Phase Ib and Phase II indications, including ongoing trials in prostate, bladder and liver cancer. Tracon expects to deliver data from 11 trials during the funding period. Release