Reborn Akari grabs $75M in financing for another Soliris rival

Six months after Celsus Therapeutics' stock price collapsed on the mid-stage failure of its lead therapy, Geneva-based Volution Immuno Pharmaceuticals has stepped in with a reverse merger deal, lining up $75 million in fresh financing from some A-list investors and flipping the company into the public market with a new name and ticker symbol on Nasdaq.

Deerfield is leading the syndicate, which includes Venrock, Vivo Capital, Foresite Capital, New Enterprise Associates, QVT Financial, RA Capital Management and "certain other institutional investors."

Celsus and Volution announced a few days ago that they had come up with a deal in which Celsus acquires Volution, with Volution shareholders winding up with 92% of a new entity called Akari Therapeutics that will trade under the "AKTX" symbol.

Volution has been working on Coversin, a next-gen C5 inhibitor, targeting the same orphan conditions that spawned a blockbuster market for Alexion's ($ALXN) Soliris. The biotech has been working on a subcutaneous formulation of the drug that should be easier to administer.

But Akari/Volution/Celsus isn't without rivals in the next-gen C5 inhibition space. Just weeks ago Cambridge, MA-based Ra Pharmaceuticals raised $58.5 million to advance its own competitor to Soliris, hoping that newly engineered peptide therapies that rely on natural and unnatural amino acids will translate peptides' potency into a reliably stable, and more readily used, therapy.

Celsus found itself in a world of hurt back in February when its topical anti-inflammatory MRX-6 failed the Phase II proof-of-concept study.

- here's the release (PDF)