Sanifit, having put Spain's biotech scene on the map, lands $231M Vifor buyout ahead of phase 3 data

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Vifor disclosed the takeover of Sanifit alongside the news that it is paying 20 million Swiss francs to buy Inositec. (Getty Images)

The poster child of the Spanish biotech scene has secured its exit. Having twice smashed the Spanish biotech financing record in recent years, Sanifit has now accepted a 205 million euro ($231 million) buyout bid from Vifor Pharma.

Sanifit helped put the nascent Spanish biotech scene on the map in 2015 when it raised a record 36.6 million euro series C round from backers including its compatriots Ysios Capital and Caixa Capital Risc. The financing served as a launchpad for Sanifit, which raised a further 55.2 million euros and posted phase 2b data in 2019; it also catalyzed the broader Spanish biotech sector, which has since seen other startups such as Ona Therapeutics emerge and Ysios raise 216 million euros to place new bets. 

From its base on the Balearic island of Mallorca, Sanifit has now achieved another landmark in the maturation of the Spanish biotech industry. Switzerland’s Vifor has agreed to pay 205 million euros and commit up to 170 million euros in precommercial milestones, with more to follow postapproval, to take ownership of Sanifit.

The deal gives Vifor control of SNF472, an inhibitor of vascular calcification that has shown promise in the treatment of conditions associated with end-stage kidney disease (ESRD). Sanifit moved the drug candidate into phase 3 in the treatment of calciphylaxis—a disease in which calcium accumulates in blood vessels—last year on the strength of data from a study of 14 patients with the condition.

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In between completing the calciphylaxis phase 2 and starting the calciphylaxis phase 3, Sanifit posted top-line data on the coronary artery calcium volume of 274 ESRD patients. The readout pointed to the potential for SNF472 to succeed in a bigger patient population, although, more than two years after the top-line release, Sanifit is yet to start a phase 3 trial in the indication.

Work is set to get going under Vifor, with the new owner of SNF472 outlining plans to start a phase 3 trial of the drug candidate in peripheral artery disease (PAD) in dialysis patients next year. By then, Sanifit may have phase 3 data in calciphylaxis, with listing the primary completion date of the study as March 2022.

Vifor disclosed the takeover of Sanifit alongside news that it is paying 20 million Swiss francs ($22 million) to buy Inositec. The deal centers on INS-3001, an early-stage treatment for PAD and aortic valve stenosis. Inositec is set to dose the first healthy volunteer in a phase 1 clinical trial later this month, moving it along a path Vifor expects to lead to the initiation of two phase 2 trials in 2023.