Viamet Revisits IPO Plans, This Time With More Data

Xconomy Raleigh-Durham — 

Viamet Pharmaceuticals is taking another swing at the public markets, filing plans for an initial public offering intended to finance the work needed to bring its lead antifungal drug to the brink of late-stage clinical studies in two types of infections.

Durham, NC-based Viamet could raise up to $100 million in the stock offering, according to the company’s prospectus. But such preliminary figures are often placeholders until the company sets a price range, and later prices the offering. The company has applied to trade on the Nasdaq Global Market under the stock symbol “VMET.”

The IPO filing comes just 18 months after Viamet withdrew IPO plans, opting instead to raise money from private investors. What’s different now is that the company has more data on its lead drug, VT-1161, a pill that the company is testing in two separate mid-stage trials, one for vaginal yeast infections, and another for fungal toenail infections.

Viamet was formed in 2004 based on chemistry research from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The company has developed technology to identify enzymes that contain metals, such as iron, zinc, and copper. Viamet says these metalloenzymes play a role in a range of biochemical reactions, and the company develops drugs that block them. Furthermore, Viamet says that it can develop antifungal drugs that offer more potency and fewer side effects compared against existing antifungals.

Early on, Viamet struck deals with larger companies interested in using Viamet’s technology to discover and develop compounds for their own pipelines. A 2009 agreement paid Viamet $3 million to research compounds of interest to Novartis (NYSE: NVS), according to Viamet’s IPO filing. That partnership expired in 2015 without advancing any compounds into clinical studies. In 2010, Viamet started a partnership with Dow AgroSciences, the Indianapolis-based plant sciences division of Dow Chemical (NYSE: DOW). That agreement paid Viamet $9 million in research funding before the program was spun off in 2014.

But Viamet eventually turned its focus to discovering and developing its own drug candidates, the most advanced being VT-1161. Viamet explored an IPO in 2014 intended to finance clinical studies of the drug. But Viamet instead raised $60 million in a Series D round that included new investors Brandon Point Industries and Woodford Investment Management, as well as existing investors Novartis Venture Fund, Lilly Ventures, Hatteras Venture Partners, Intersouth Partners, Lurie Holdings, and Astellas Venture Management. At that time, Viamet spun off its Dow Agro partnership and its prostate cancer program into a separate company called Innocrin Pharmaceuticals. Excluding the amounts attributed to the Innocrin spinoff, Viamet says it has raised $111.9 million to date.

Viamet now plans to use IPO proceeds to complete mid-stage studies of its lead drug in onychomycosis, the toenail infection; and recurrent vulvovaginal candidiasis, a recurring vaginal yeast infection that has no FDA-approved treatments. Viamet last month reported promising interim results in studies for both drugs, adding that it expects to report full results for both mid-stage trials in the fourth quarter. The company says proceeds would help the company start Phase 3 clinical trial work for both indications. Viamet would also use some of the IPO bounty to work on earlier-stage drug candidates in cryptococcal meningitis and Valley fever.

Even if Viamet’s IPO reaches the $100 million mark, the company will eventually need to raise more. The company says that proceeds from the stock offering, along with its existing cash reserves, will not be enough to complete clinical development of any of its drug candidates. According to the SEC filing, the company, which does not yet have any commercially available products and is no longer drawing any revenue from partnerships, lost $32.7 million in 2015. Viamet reported having $29.3 million in cash and cash equivalents as of Dec. 31.

 Photo courtesy of Flickr user Steve Smith via a Creative Commons license.