Good Things in Threes: Trius Therapeutics Files for IPO to Fund Phase 3 Clinical Trials, Marks San Diego’s Third IPO Filing

San Diego’s Trius Therapeutics, a venture-backed biotech developing a new antibiotic for treating acute and life-threatening bacterial infections, submitted a regulatory filing Friday to raise as much as $86 million in an initial public stock offering. It marks the third IPO filing by a company in the San Diego area so far this year.

The biotech was founded in 2004, and has posted a loss every year since then. No pricing terms were disclosed in the filing. Trius plans to list on the NASDAQ under the symbol TSRX.

The San Diego biotech passed a key Phase 2 test of its antibiotic in June, with an overall cure rate of 96 percent at three different doses for patients with complicated skin infections. The company has been looking to proceed to Phase 3 clinical trials of its antibiotic, torezolid, which Trius describes as a second-generation successor to linezolid, the Pfizer antibiotic known as Zyvox.

Even when I sat down with Trius CEO Jeff Stein seven months ago, he was looking ahead to fund its Phase 3 trials from another fundraising round, or by striking a development deal with a strategic partner.

Trius licensed torezolid from South Korea’s Dong-A Pharmaceuticals, but the company says it has developed new techniques that use antisense technology to identify other potential antibacterial drugs.

Trius says its lead antibiotic, like Pfizer’s linezolid, is particularly effective against drug-resistant strains of bacteria, such as MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus). Torezolid also appears to be more potent than linezolid, allowing for lower dosing, and can be administered intravenously. Stein told Luke an estimated 19,000 people in the U.S. die from bacterial infections each year. Total U.S. sales for the four existing antibiotics labeled for MRSA grew from $778 million in 2005 to $1.4 billion in 2008, according to Trius’ IPO filing. Sales of linezolid alone were $1.1 billion.

With the additional funding, Trius says it plans to conduct two Phase 3 clinical trials to evaluate the 200 milligram dose of torezolid for treating acute bacterial skin infections. The first trial, which is expected to begin by June 2010, is intended to evaluate the efficacy, safety, and tolerability of the dosage in adolescent and adult patients in comparison to linezolid. The second trial will begin by administering torezolid to patients intravenously and subsequently switch to oral tablets.

Trius has raised close to $51 million in venture capital, and recently secured a $19.2 million loan from a number of existing investors that is convertible to stock. According to its IPO registration, San Francisco-based Sofinnova Ventures holds a 21.3 percent stake in the company; Menlo Park, CA-based InterWest Partners holds a 17.7 percent stake; San Francisco-based Versant Partners, 17.7 percent; Westwood, MA-based Prism VentureWorks, 13.5 percent; and Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers, 11.9 percent. None of the firms will retain their current shares following the IPO.

MaxLinear, a Carlsbad, CA, semiconductor designer, also filed for an IPO Friday. San Diego-based Bridgepoint Education went public through an IPO earlier this year.

Bruce V. Bigelow was the editor of Xconomy San Diego from 2008 to 2018. Read more about his life and work here. Follow @bvbigelow

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