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Pliant Therapeutics Raises $100 Million to Advance Therapies for Fibrotic Diseases

March 3, 2020

Pliant Therapeutics has raised $100 million in a series C financing to support the continued clinical development of PLN-74809 as a treatment for rare fibrotic diseases.

Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) is a serious, life-limiting lung disease characterized by fibrosis and scarring of lung tissue with a median survival of 3 to 5 years after diagnosis. Replacement of normal lung tissue by fibrosis results in restriction in the ability to fill the lungs with air and decreased transfer of oxygen from inhaled air into the bloodstream resulting in lower oxygen delivery to the brain and other organs. Patients with IPF most often suffer from progressive shortness of breath, particularly with exertion, chronic cough, fatigue and weakness, and chest discomfort. IPF is a highly lethal disease that currently affects approximately 140,000 people in the United States, with 60 percent to 80 percent of patients dying within five years of diagnosis.

Primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC) is a rare, chronic, and progressive liver disorder of unknown origin, which frequently occurs in the setting of inflammatory bowel disease. It is characterized by inflammation, and eventually fibrosis, or scarring, of the liver and its bile ducts. While PSC affects nearly 45,000 patients in the United States, there are currently no approved therapies to treat the disease, with more than 50 percent of patients requiring liver transplantation within 10 to 15 years after diagnosis.

Pharmaceutical giant Novartis led the financing, with Redmile Group, Farallon Capital Management, Cormorant Asset Management, Surveyor Capital, and Logos Capital joining the round as new investors. Existing investors participating in the financing included Eventide Asset Management, Cowen Healthcare Investments, Schroder Adveq, Menlo Ventures, SCubed Capital, Agent Capital, and undisclosed institutional investors.

“This financing will support the continued clinical development of our lead product candidate in IPF and PSC, as well as our continued strategy to build our pipeline of proprietary product candidates for a wide range of other fibrotic diseases,” said Bernard Coulie, president and CEO of Pliant Therapeutics.

Pliant’s lead small molecule product candidate PLN-74809 targets the fibrotic process in both the liver cells and bile ducts, potentially slowing down the progression of disease. It is designed to be a dual selective inhibitor of two integrins that play key roles in multiple fibrotic pathways. It is currently being evaluated for treatment of IPF and PSC. In phase 1 trials, PLN-74809 was shown to be well tolerated, with a half-life supporting potential once-daily dosing. PLN-74809 is currently in phase 2a testing for IPF.  PLN-74809 has received Orphan Drug designation from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of both IPF and PSC.

Photo: Bernard Coulie, president and CEO of Pliant Therapeutics

Author: Rare Daily Staff

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