ZS Pharma Raises $55M to Develop Drug to Treat Hyperkalemia

ZS Pharma, a Fort Worth-area biotech developing a chronic kidney disease drug, has raised $55 million in new equity financing.

ZS Pharma will use the Series D funding round to continue to develop its lead drug candidate, ZS-9, an experimental treatment for people with hyperkalemia, and get the company to the point of filing new drug applications with the FDA and the European Medicines Agency. ZS Pharma expects to submit those documents to regulators in early 2015. New investors included Novo A/S, RA Capital, Adage Capital, Sofinnova Ventures. Existing investors such as Alta Partners, Devon Park Bioventures, 3×5 Special Opportunity Fund, Salem Partners, and RiverVest also participated in the financing.

At Kidney Week this past November, ZS Pharma reported that its drug reduced excess amounts of potassium in the blood of hyperkalemia patients. The finding—if confirmed in two additional studies planned for this year—could be medically significant. That’s because people with failing kidneys are often left with too much potassium in the blood, which can lead to potentially deadly irregular heart rhythms.

At that time, complete data from the phase III trial, which included 753 patients, had not been reported. Specifically, the company did not reveal patients’ baseline levels of potassium, so the preliminary results didn’t show if the drug was able to bring their potassium levels back to normal.

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