Sorbent Therapeutics Absorbs $36M to Go After New Treatment For Kidney, Heart Failure

Xconomy San Francisco — 

Sorbent Therapeutics wants to soak up the excess sodium and fluids that linger in the blood of people with failing kidneys and failing hearts, and it’s now absorbing a lot more cash to put the idea to the test.

Sunnyvale, CA-based Sorbent is announcing today it has secured another $36 million in venture financing to close out a Series B financing that now totals $53 million over the last nine months. Novartis Venture Funds led the new round, and was joined by existing investors Sofinnova Ventures, Arch Venture Partners, CMEA Capital, and AgeChem.

The company, founded in 2005 with technology from Dow Chemical, has developed a type of polymer that doesn’t get absorbed into the bloodstream, and is made to soak up and remove fluids, and ions like sodiums or potassiums, that can cause problems in high concentrations. Sorbent suspects its molecules could be useful for patients with kidney failure, and congestive heart failure. While this isn’t a silver-bullet kind of thing that will cure the underlying disease, it could tap into some big markets. An estimated 5.7 million people in the U.S. suffer from heart failure, in which people feel week and fatigued as the heart loses its ability to vigorously pump blood.

“There have been no major breakthroughs in congestive heart failure or dialysis for a while, and this could be an extremely safe and effective way of managing these diseases without a systemically active drug,” says Bob Nelsen, a managing director with Arch Venture Partners. Markus Goebel, a managing director with Novartis Venture Funds, added in a statement that “we are especially encouraged by the clinical data that Sorbent has generated to date.”

I haven’t been able to get a close look at the clinical data yet, but Sorbent says its lead drug, called CLP-1001, has been studied in more than 100 patients and healthy volunteers. Fluid buildup can already be treated with cheap generic diuretics, but many heart failure patients end up hospitalized when those treatments fail, a company spokeswoman says.

Sorbent is led by CEO Detlef Albrecht, who previously worked on a non-absorbed polymer for kidney dialysis patients when he was at Ilypsa, which was bought by Amgen in 2007 for $420 million. Albrecht also worked at Relypsa, another company developing non-absorbed polymers for kidney failure patients, which is trying to fish out excess potassium from the blood.