Cidara Therapeutics raises $42 million to develop once-weekly anti-fungal therapy

Cidara Therapeutics (formerly K2 Therapeutics) grabbed $42 million in a private Series B funding round Wednesday to continue developing its once-weekly anti-fungal therapy. Just in June 2014, the company completed a $32 million Series A financing led by 5AM Ventures, Aisling Capital, Frazier Healthcare and InterWest Partners, which was the fourth largest A round in 2014 for innovative startups[1]. FierceBiotech named the company as one of 2014 Fierce 15 biotech startups.

Cidara has an impressive executive team. The company was co-founded by Kevin Forrest, former CEO of Achaogen (NASDAQ: AKAO), and Shaw Warren. Jeffrey Stein, former CEO of Trius Therapeutics (NASDAQ: TSRX) and Dirk Thye, former president of Cerexa, have joined Cidara as CEO and CMO, respectively. Trius successfully developed antibiotic tedizolid and was acquired in 2013 by Cubist Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: CBST) for $818 million.

Cidara’s lead candidate, biafungin (SP3025), was acquired from Seachaid Pharmaceuticals for $6 million. Biafungin’s half-life is much longer than that of similar drugs known as echinocandins (e.g., caspofungin, micafungin, anidulafungin), which may allow it to be developed as a once-weekly therapy, instead of once daily. The company is also developing a topical formulation of biafungin, namely topifungin. Cidara intends to file an IND and initiate a Phase I clinical trial in the second half of 2015.

Merck’s Cancidas (caspofungin), launched in 2001, was the first of approved enchinocandins. The drug generated annual sales of $596 million in 2008. The approved echinocandins must be administered daily by intravenous infusion. Biafungin with improved pharmacokinetic characteristics has the potential to bring in hundreds of millions of dollars per year.

[1] Nat Biotechnol. 2015, 33(1), 18.

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