Pharma, Startups

ReViral closes $55 million Series B funding round for RSV drug

The company plans a global Phase IIa study among children with disease, which currently lacks approved treatments.

A British firm developing therapeutics to target respiratory syncytial virus has raised new funding to advance its investigational drug into clinical trials among children and adults.

London-based ReViral said Wednesday that it had raised a $55 million Series B round, led by New York-based New Leaf Venture Partners and Novo Ventures, the venture capital arm of Danish drugmaker Novo Nordisk. Perceptive Advisors, also based in New York, participated as well, along with existing investors Andera Partners, OrbiMed and Brace Pharma Capital.

The company plans to use the funding to move its lead drug candidate, RV521, into Phase IIa studies in pediatric and adult patients, including a global pediatric study. Data from 66 patients in a placebo-controlled Phase IIa study presented at the American Thoracic Society’s annual meeting in May showed that among the 53 participants confirmed to be infected with RSV, viral load and symptoms were significantly lower among the 34 patients receiving RV521 at 350mg or 200mg compared with the 19 who received placebo. While the study abstract did not state whether the results were statistically significant, CEO Eddy Littler said in an email that per the data presentation at the conference, measures of viral load and symptom score achieved p-values of 0.006 and 0.001, respectively, thus indicating statistical significance.

RSV causes an estimated 30 million infections worldwide each year, including about 200,000 deaths in children younger than 5. The global market for RSV treatments was valued at $820 million in 2016, but is expected to grow to $2.12 billion by 2025, according to a report in April by Transparency Market Research.

There are currently no approved RSV therapies available, ReViral said. However, AstraZeneca’s Synagis (palivizumab) is approved for preventing severe RSV disease among children at risk of it. The Transparency Market Research report found that Synagis is expected to command a leading market share, with ribavirin’s share falling, though the AstraZeneca drug’s high price – ranging from $2,600 to $3,500 for an injection – is expected to hamper the market. According to the Mayo Clinic, ribavirin – approved for HIV and hepatitis C – is used in inhaled form in extreme cases. Supportive care for fever reduction and congestion is also used.

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