Viamet Pulls IPO, Raises $60M, Spins Off Cancer Program

Xconomy Raleigh-Durham — 

Viamet Pharmaceuticals has withdrawn plans for an initial public offering and has instead raised $60 million in private financing to pay for clinical trials of its lead antifungal drug candidate.

Along with the Series D round of financing, the Durham, NC, company also said it would also spin out its prostate cancer program to existing investors as an independent company called Innocrin Pharmaceuticals. William Moore, who was Viamet’s chief scientific officer, will lead Innocrin, which is studying a compound in mid-stage clinical trials for castration-resistant prostate cancer.

Viamet had filed IPO plans in July to raise up to $75 million for Phase 2b clinical trials of its lead antifungal compound, VT-1161, a pill that is being developed to treat several fungal infections. The lead target for the antifungal is to treat vulvovaginal candidasis, a vaginal yeast infection that has no approved treatments in the United States.

In a Monday filing with securities regulators, Viamet gives no reason for withdrawing its registration statement, saying only that it has determined not to pursue its proposed public offering at this time. The company adds that it has not sold any securities in connection with that registration statement. At the time of the initial filing in July, Viamet stated it planned use proceeds from an offering to take VT-1161 into Phase 2b studies in the second half of 2014.

Now, instead of raising money by selling stock to the public, Viamet has opted for private capital from Dublin, Ireland-based Brandon Point Industries, along with Woodford Investment Management, based in Oxford, United Kingdom. Those investors join Viamet’s existing syndicate that includes Novartis Venture Fund, Lilly Ventures, Hatteras Venture Partners, Intersouth Partners, Lurie Holdings, and Astellas Venture Management. The company says the financing is “expected to provide sufficient capital to fund operations through the achievement of several important clinical milestones over the next several years.”

Besides studying VT-1161 in yeast infections, the company is also studying to see if its lead antifungal candidate has potential as a treatment for onychomychosis, a toenail fungal infection. Viamet’s pre-clinical pipeline also includes compounds being developed for cryptoccocal meningitis and other invasive fungal infections. With new financing now in place, Viamet CEO Robert Schotzinger said in a statement that the VT-1161 Phase 2b studies are planned to start in the fourth quarter; a Phase 1 study of VT-1129 in cryptococcal meningitis is expected to start in mid-2015.

Viamet was formed in 2004 to research and develop new antifungals. When the company also developed a cancer program in 2011, Viamet reorganized to split its business into an antifungals division and a cancer division. Viamet’s proprietary chemistry technology includes a database identifying enzymes that contain metal, such as iron, zinc, or copper. The company says these “metalloenzymes” catalyze a wide range of biochemical reactions. The company develops drugs that block these metalloenzymes. Viamet says that compared to currently available antifungals, its drugs will be more potent yet cause fewer side effects.