B.C. Industry News

Business in Vancouver – Former Aspreva executives’ new company nets $56 million in private placement

February 18, 2014

By Nelson Bennett

Aurinia Pharmaceuticals Inc. (TSX-V:AUP), a Victoria-based biotech whose team includes the founders of British Columbia’s most successful biopharmaceutical companies – Aspreva Pharmaceuticals – has secured $56 million in private placements.

Aurinia is developing a drug for treating lupus-related kidney infection.

The financing was led by venBio, New Enterprise Associates, Redmile Group, RA Capital Management, Great Point Partners and Apple Tree Partners.

Other institutional investors include existing shareholders Lumira Capital, ILJIN Life Science Co. Ltd. and Difference Capital.

The company said it planned to use the financing to move its chief drug candidate – voclosporin – into stage two clinical trials. The company also plans to file for listing on the Nasdaq by the end of this year.

“This has provided us with the necessary resources to begin implementing our strategic plan, including the launch of a phase 2B study of voclosporin in lupus nephritis,” said Aurinia CEO Stephen Zaruby.

According to Aurinia, voclosporin has potential as a drug for preventing organ rejection in kidney transplant patients. But the company plans to focus on using it to treat lupus nephritis – inflammation of the kidney caused by lupus erythematosus.

Aurinia is a late-stage biopharmaceutical company whose executive team includes former Aspreva executives.

Former Aspreva co-founder Richard Glickman is Aspreva’s chairman. Aurinia COO Michael Martin was a key member of the Aspreva team that put together what was to become the biggest acquisition in B.C. biotech history, when Aspreva sold to the Galenica Group for $915 million in 2007.