Health, Wellness & Biotech

Rivus Pharmaceuticals Announces $132M In Funding For Obesity-Related Drug

Illustration of biotech lab equipment

Where the data goes, investors will follow.

In February, Charlottesville, Virginia-based Rivus Pharmaceuticals announced optimistic news: It saw positive results in clinical trials for a drug candidate to address cardio-metabolic disease and obesity; people were able to lose fat. 

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Months later, the startup said on Thursday it raised $132 million in Series B funding led by RA Capital Management, with participation from others like Bain Capital Life Sciences and BB Biotech AG. The fresh funding will go toward pushing its drug candidate, HU6, through clinical trials.

Per the research, HU6 was able to aid in weight loss while conserving muscle, a rare feat for a drug in its category. Participants also saw improvements in inflammation, glycemic control and HbA1c. 

“While there have been several recent clinical successes in the treatment of obesity, CMAs stand alone in their ability to demonstrate significant fat reduction while sparing muscle mass, a very desirable profile especially in patients with diabetic myopathy and sarcopenia,” Derek DiRocco, a partner at RA Capital, said in a statement.

Nothing drives the biotech market like research

The raise is a strong example of how, even in a tight market when most investors focus on bolstering portfolio companies instead of making new investments, there is only one foolproof way to nab funding: Put out good research.

But that can be a problem in the current economic environment. Startups still need money to run research and development or clinical trials, and most biotech companies are looking to create just enough runway to make it to the stage where they can get some positive data. 

“As interest rates go up, it’s harder for non-revenue-positive companies to raise money, and that does make it hard for our industry,” said Dr. Christiana Bardon, co-managing partner at cancer-focused MPM BioImpact Capital, “If we can’t raise money and we can’t do our work, we can’t run our clinical trials.

Many startups are looking to extend the runway just enough to get from one step to the next. Strong early research and development can bring them enough funding to start clinical trials. And through clinical trials—the most expensive part of bringing a drug to market—startups can ask for more funding along the way as they glean positive insights. 

Illustration: Li-Anne Dias

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