Sophiris Bio Files $75M IPO, Plans Pivotal Trials of Prostate Drug

Xconomy San Diego — 

San Diego-based Sophiris Bio, which was founded in Vancouver B.C. and already trades on the Toronto Stock Exchange, intends to list its shares on the Nasdaq and raise almost $75 million through an IPO, according to a regulatory filing. The life sciences startup has been developing a new drug treatment for benign prostate hyperplasia (BPH), or enlarged prostate.

The IPO is part of a long-term plan that brought the Canadian startup to San Diego in 2011. Sofinnova executive partner Lars Ekman, who headed the Sophiris relocation effort, laid out the plan last year, shortly before Sophiris named the veteran life sciences executive Randy Woods as CEO. Warburg Pincus, which provided funding needed to re-capitalize the company, now holds a 52.3 percent stake in Sophiris. BC Advantage Funds has an 11.5 percent stake.

The company’s fate is closely tied to the development of its lead drug candidate, PRX302, a genetically modified recombinant protein. Sophiris says it expects to begin enrolling patients for the first of two planned pivotal trials in the first half of this year.

The drug is intended as an improved treatment for BPH, and has been shown to shrink an enlarged prostate without the type of drug-related erectile dysfunction or cardiovascular side effects that occur with existing pharmaceutical therapies. Sophiris says its drug also would be safer and less invasive than prostate surgery. The estimated market for BPH-related medical services in U.S. hospitals and outpatient settings is more than $1 billion.

Sophiris says its drug is being developed for delivery as an ultrasound-guided injection directly into the prostate. The drug is activated only by the Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA), which is found only on the surface of prostate cells and nowhere else in the body, triggering a process of programmed cell death that causes prostate tissue to shrink without damage to neighboring tissue and nerves.