Saniona’s Q3 report underscores a period of heightened activity, extending beyond the quarter’s confines. A notable development is the collaboration with AstronauTx in Alzheimer’s research, potentially yielding milestone payments of up to 177 MUSD for Saniona. The company is also making strides in its Kv7 epilepsy treatment program. Collectively, this marks a positive shift following the challenges that the company encountered in 2022.
As we approach the end of the reporting season, Danish biotech Saniona provided an overview of its third-quarter performance last week. The contrast between 2023 and 2022 is evident, particularly in terms of the news updates in recent months.
In 2022, the company discontinued its operations in the US, to reduce future operating expenses on an annual basis by approximately 70-75 per cent. These actions, along with a flood of positive news in 2023, propelled Saniona to be one of the top-performing life sciences stocks in the first half of 2023. Read more here.
Progress during Q3
In July 2023, Saniona announced one of its more significant news in recent years. In July, the company entered into a collaboration with AstronauTx in Alzheimer’s disease research. The collaboration brings with it the potential for Saniona to receive up to 1.9 MDKR (177 MUSD) in milestone payments, along with royalties on global net sales of resulting products. Saniona’s CEO Thomas Feltdhus commented on the deal in an interview.
Three months later, AstronauTx completed a 61 MUSD Series A financing. The financing was led by the Novartis Venture Fund, attracting capital from several leading global venture investors such as Brandon Capital, Bristol Myers Squibb, EQT Life Sciences, MPM Capital, and the Dementia Discovery Fund.
Since Saniona’s technology platform IonBase plays a central role in the collaboration with AstronauTx, BioStock talked to the company’s CEO, Thomas Feldthus, for a comment. In the interview, which can be read here, Feltdhus concluded:
“Certainly, the collaboration with Saniona has been subject to these top-tier investors’ due diligence and demonstrated its quality and value. This financing demonstrates that it is possible to raise significant financing among leading venture capital firms based on a strong technology platform, well-founded ideas, and solid plans to resolve a significant unmet medical need in a major disease area such as Alzheimer’s disease. The money is more than AstronauTx will be able to spend on the Saniona program in the near term. Therefore, it may also cover later clinical studies as well as potential other programs.”
Strategic loan adjustment with Formue Nord
During the third quarter, Saniona also adjusted its loan agreement with Formue Nord, reducing the loan through a 3 MSEK repayment by Saniona and a conversion of 10 MSEK into shares at 8.50 SEK per share. Furthermore, a commitment fee of 4.8 MSEK was converted into shares.
Key developments post-Q3 reporting period
After the reporting period, Professor Vincenzo Crunelli of Cardiff University presented compelling preclinical data on SAN711, Saniona’s lead ion-channel drug candidate, at the Society for Neuroscience (SfN) annual meeting in November. The data showcased SAN711’s potent suppression of absence seizures, positioning it as a precision treatment for non-convulsive generalised seizures.
Saniona also initiated the candidate selection phase for a proprietary subtype-selective frontrunner molecule from the Kv7 lead optimisation program, targeting epilepsy. This move underscores Saniona’s commitment to advancing clinical candidates for various epilepsy indications.
According to Saniona, the commercial potential of Kv7 epilepsy drugs is illustrated by the fact that peer companies Xenon and Biohaven both working within the Kv7 field, have market capitalisations of around 2 bUSD, largely based on their Kv7 development programmes. Read an interview with Thomas Feltdhus regarding this here.
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“We have a broad pipeline, which we develop in collaboration with partners. We have a long and successful history of finding and negotiating partnerships, such as the new collaboration with AstronauTx in Alzheimer’s disease. Based on our business discussions, I am confident that we will reach additional partnerships. In parallel we are leveraging our expertise in ion-channel drug discovery to identify and advance additional clinical candidates in a range of epilepsy indications. Saniona has a lot to offer in epilepsy and may create significant value for the shareholders in this field.” – CEO Thomas Feldthus, from the Q3 report