Venture capital

Austin-based Savara raises $20 million

Investment will help fund company's upcoming clinical trial for inhalable cystic fibrosis drugs

Posted March 1st, 2016

Austin-based Savara Pharmaceuticals has completed a $20 million round of financing as it prepares to launch new clinical trials of its inhalable drug for cystic fibrosis patients, the company said Tuesday. 

Savara says its drug, called AeroVanc, is the first inhaled antibiotic being developed for the treatment of the life-threatening pulmonary staph infection MRSA in cystic fibrosis patients. 

The company said preparations are underway to begin a Phase 3 clinical trial of AeroVanc. 

“The new financing will support the AeroVanc Phase 3 trial, and expand our pipeline with other new drugs for serious and life-shortening rare respiratory diseases,” said Rob Neville, CEO of Savara. “Research shows that people with CF have a more rapid decline in lung function when infected with MRSA, as well as a reduction in overall survival.” 

 Neville said the company is in the process of selecting research sites for the Phase 3 study, with about 80 U.S. and Canadian sites expected to participate. Study enrollment is expected to start in late 2016. 

Savara did not disclose the investor. In 2013, the company raised $7.4 million from investors including the Tech Coast Angels, the North Texas Angel Network, the Central Texas Angel Network and angel investment group Keiretsu Forum. 


 Savara was founded in 2007 in Kansas, where it licensed technology from the University of Kansas. In 2008, the company moved to Austin, which is home Neville, who was an early Savara investor. 

Neville, who is now CEO of Savara, previously ran a health care information technology consulting firm and was CEO and co-founder of Evity Inc., an Austin-based company that was acquired by BMC Corp. for $100 million in 2000. 

AeroVanc is a dry powder formulation of vancomycin, which is currently administered intravenously. Savara says AeroVanc delivers the drug to the site of the infection and has the potential to be more effective and reduce adverse effects. 

handoutRob Neville is CEO and president of Savara Pharmaceuticals

The drug has received orphan drug designation from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The FDA grants orphan drug designation to novel drugs that show promise in the treatment of rare diseases or conditions affecting fewer than 200,000 patients in the United States. 

The status allows companies to expedite clinical development and receive other benefits.

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