Rebiotix Inc., a Roseville company that is developing a new category of biologic drugs, raised $25 million in its second funding round.
Rebiotix said Tuesday it will use the money to support clinical research to advance its lead product, called RBX2660, toward commercialization. It will also help pay for other research and development and provide working capital, the company said.
It’s one of the biggest investments in Minnesota’s life sciences industry in 2014, a year that is shaping up to be the strongest for fundraising by local firms since before the 2008 recession.
Rebiotix’s goal is to revolutionize the treatment of challenging gastrointestinal diseases through a new category of drugs involving transplantation of live human-derived microbes. The FDA has designated RBX2660 as a “fast track” product for the treatment of recurrent C. difficile, a bacterial infection. That designation underscores the urgent need for a new therapy, Rebiotix said.
There is a so-called “ick” factor to this biologic approach over antibiotics, however. Healthy microbes are taken from human fecal material, and supplemented with other ingredients to keep them alive.
“Our treatment works well against this disease,” said Lee Jones, Rebiotix chief executive. “If we can do this consistently … it can overwhelm the C. diff infection, so the patients can fight off the disease themselves. It should save a huge amount of money in hospitalization and antibiotics.”
Results of a recent multicenter clinical trial of the Rebiotix therapy will be presented in October at the annual meeting of the American College of Gastroenterology.
Jones said almost all the $25 million, in addition to an earlier round of $5.5 million in funding, came from Minnesota individual investors. She credited the state’s “angel tax credits,” which permits a dollar-for-dollar tax credit up to certain limits, with aiding her fundraising.
The investors include Michael Berman, the former Boston Scientific executive involved in a number of fledgling companies and veteran investor Erwin Kelen.
Separately, LifeScience Alley, an association of the local med-tech industry, said Minnesota companies raised $185.9 million in fresh equity during the first half of 2014, up 67 percent from $111.4 million in the same period last year.