Date: Jun 13, 2012 Author: Lori Hawkins Source: American-Statesman (
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Savara Pharmaceuticals, an Austin developer of drugs for cystic fibrosis patients, has raised $8.6 million to fund its next stage of clinical trials.
The company said its drug, called AeroVanc, is the first inhaled antibiotic being developed for the treatment of a life-threatening pulmonary staph infection in cystic fibrosis patients.
The investment round was led by angel investment group the Keiretsu Forum. The company previously raised $3.5 million from investors including the Central Texas Angel Network, the Aggie Angel Network and the North Texas Angel Network.
Savara was founded in Kansas, where it licensed technology from the University of Kansas. In 2008, the company moved to Austin, where its lead investor Robert Neville lives.
Neville, who is now Savara's CEO, previously ran a health care information technology consulting firm and was CEO and co-founder of Evity Inc., an
Austin-based software company that was acquired by BMC Corp. for $100 million in 2000.
AeroVanc is a dry powder formulation of vancomycin, which is currently administered intravenously. The company said AeroVanc delivers the drug to the site of the infection and has the potential to be more effective and reduce adverse effects.
In June, Savara completed a Phase I clinical study of AeroVanc in healthy volunteers and cystic fibrosis patients.
"This new financing recognizes the progress we have made in advancing AeroVanc very rapidly through the early product development, including a Phase I clinical study," Neville said.
The new funding will allow the company to carry out a trial with cystic fibrosis patients with the staph infection who are in urgent need of treatment, he said.
Savara has four employees and conducts its research virtually, using researchers in countries including Canada, Denmark and Australia. It plans to add an unspecified number of Austin workers, including a clinical trial manager.