Biotech upstart Tricida banks $30M for its kidney drug with OrbiMed in tow

South San Francisco's Tricida raised $30 million in Series B cash to take its chronic kidney disease (CKD) treatment into clinical trials, with venture capital giant OrbiMed leading the round.

CKD often leads to a dangerous buildup of electrolytes like phosphate, potassium and sodium, creating a bodily imbalance that can prove fatal, according to Tricida. The company's lead candidate, TRC101, is a nonabsorbed drug designed to sit in the gastrointestinal tract and clear out those excess electrolytes, potentially saving patients from the need for dialysis.

The biotech, formed in 2013, is earmarking its $30 million raise to pay the preclinical TRC101's way to an IND filing later this year and into human trials thereafter. The funding round, led by OrbiMed and joined by Sibling Capital Ventures and Limulus Venture Partners, comes on the heels of a $10 million A round closed last year.

Tricida is led by Gerrit Klaerner, who founded the kidney-focused Ilypsa in 2003 and negotiated its $420 million sale to Amgen ($AMGN) four years later. He went on to start Relypsa ($RLYP), a 2008 Fierce 15 winner that pulled off a $97 million IPO and now awaits FDA approval for a drug to treat life-threateningly high levels of potassium in the blood.

Now Tricida hopes to replicate that success with TRC101, and Klaerner recruited Relypsa veterans Jerry Buysse and Jamie Cope to steer R&D at his latest renal venture. And that brain trust was a major selling point for investors getting behind the biotech, OrbiMed partner David Bonita said.

"Tricida's experienced team has demonstrated yet again the ability to identify a clinical candidate that holds great potential in addressing a significant unmet medical need in chronic kidney disease," Bonita said in a statement.

- read the statement

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