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Moving Fast, Trius Therapeutics Assesses Capital Needs for Late-Stage Clinical Trials

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 scientists and other personnel. Yet key scientists agreed to join Trius in 2007 chiefly on the strength of its initial $20 million round of venture funding, which was led by San Francisco-based Sofinnova Ventures, where Stein was a partner. The Series A round was joined by InterWest Partners of Menlo Park, CA, Versant Ventures of San Francisco, and Prism VentureWorks of Westwood, MA.

Stein says after he joined the company in mid-2005 as board chairman (later becoming CEO), Trius spent the next 18 months evaluating different anti-bacterial compounds. He found the molecule he was looking for at South Korea’s Dong-A Pharmaceuticals.

“The attractive thing for me was that it was in this Zyvox class of compounds,” Stein says. But the Trius drug candidate appears more promising because it appears to be more potent than linezolid, which means it can be prescribed at lower doses, and because it is more soluble and so can be administered intravenously and orally.

Trius returned to its venture investors in March 2008 to raise an additional $30 million, in a round led by Silicon Valley’s Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. The company also received a $28 million biodefense contract from the National Institutes of Health to develop novel antibiotics against a number of potential bioterrorism infectious agents. Trius is awaiting word on another $68 million in pending defense contracts from the Defense Threat Reduction Agency and the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, a part of the Department of Health and Human Services.

Stein says the company now has about 35 employees, but Trius could be expanding rapidly over the next year if everything happens according to plan.

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