Novartis AG (NYSE:NVS) recently joined several other investors to pour $60 million into antifungal drug developer F2G Ltd. The biotech is working on a set of antifungal agents that are called orotomides and which have a different mechanism from the antifungal agents currently on the market. Novartis participated in the latest fundraising for F2G through its venture arm Novartis Venture Fund.
Besides Novartis, other backers of F2G in the latest funding round were Brace Pharma Capital, Sectoral Asset Management and Novo A/S. Sectoral Asset led the latest round that raised $60 million for the biotech.
Before the latest funding round, Novartis, Advent Life Sciences LLP, Merifin Capital and Sunstone Capital had been existing investors in F2G and they again participated in the latest fundraising. Back in 2012, these existing investors and others not named raised $30 million for F2G.
But it is currently not clear what stake Novartis and other backers own in F2G. However, investors in the biotech appear to be impressed by the company’s unique antifungal agents.
Tackling drug resistance
F2G’s orotomides antifungal agents, which exhibit a completely different mechanism from those of conventional antifungals, offer a promise in tackling rare fungal infections and dealing with resistance to antifungal therapies. The orotomides are also said to be well-tolerated in a large number of patients. As such, it should come as a welcome treatment for the nearly 30% of patients with fungal infections who cannot tolerate existing antifungal treatments.
Lead drug candidate
The Novartis-backed F2G has in its pipeline an antifungal compound called F901318, which is being developed for treatment of serious and rare fungal infections. The company hopes to use its recently raised funds to finance the ongoing development of F901318 and also expand the label of the drug with the hope of increasing its revenue potential.
F2G is planning a small pharmacokinetic Phase II clinical trial of F901318 in the back half of 2016. Additional advanced trials of the compound are expected to follow in 2017.
Although the Novartis-backed F2G doesn’t currently have IPO plans, CEO Ian Nicholson said it is something they would seriously consider after completing the pivotal study planned for 2017.