UPDATED: Sangart stashes $50M funding for oxygenation drugs

Fresh from a positive safety check on a lead program, the biotech Sangart has hauled in $50 million in equity funding from its existing investor Leucadia National. Leucadia, the industry conglomerate that led Sangart's last round, has now helped the developer boost its total funding raised to more than $280 million, exercising Series G preferred stock warrants in the latest financing deal.

The seventh-round financing is expected to fuel development of San Diego-based Sangart's treatments that deliver essential gases to embattled tissues. And the new infusion of capital comes after an independent committee gave the company a nod to continue a Phase IIb trial of the oxygen therapeutic MP4OX for treating tissues at risk of ischemia in patients faced with hemorrhagic shock.

The drug is designed to deliver oxygen to tissues deprived of the gas and, though not a blood substitute, is intended to add to treatments such as blood transfusions that are given to trauma patients, according to Sangart's website. Using the same platform, the company makes another developmental treatment for patients with sickle cell disease called MP4CO, which aims to provide therapeutic levels of carbon monoxide in certain cells to tamp down inflammation and stymie a trigger of cellular death. And after the drug drops off the carbon monoxide, the compound is supposed to pick up oxygen in the lungs and deliver it to cells in need.

"This funding will allow us to continue advancing the development of our medicines and get them as quickly as possible to patients in need," Brian O'Callaghan, Sangart's president and CEO, stated. "We continue to see promise in our unique MP4 gas-delivery platform, focused on developing therapies for patients in crisis who are experiencing ischemia and organ dysfunction as a result of hemorrhagic shock injury or a vaso-occlusive crisis associated with sickle cell disease."

O'Callaghan launched a restructuring plan in 2009 after taking the reins at the 14-year-old biotech, refocusing the development plan for MP4OX on trauma patients and altering the regulatory strategy for the lead program. In an interview with FierceBiotech, the CEO said that he expects to wrap up the Phase IIb trial for the drug in the third quarter. If all goes well, the company will begin plans for a late-stage trials and break ground on a new manufacturing facility for the product in Ireland.

- here's the release

Editor's Note: Updated with CEO interview.