AbbVie-Backed Virobay Inc. Lines Up $50 Million IPO

Published: Sep 11, 2014

AbbVie-Backed Virobay Inc. Lines Up $50 Million IPO

September 11, 2014

By Krystle Vermes, BioSpace.com Breaking News Staff

Clinical stage biopharmaceutical company Virobay Inc. has filed a S-1 form with the Securities and Exchange Commission for $50 million towards an initial public offering, it said Sept. 10.

The company is filing for up to $50 million in common, and it will be listed on NASDAQ as “VBAY.” Underwriters for the offering include Piper Jaffray, Cantor Fitzgerald, Summer Street Research Partners and JMP Securities.

Virobay is backed by AbbVie , the biopharmaceutical drug maker. It also receives backing from TPG Biotechnology Partners, Sutter Hill Ventures and ACP. Virobay has five drugs in its portfolio that target a wide range of conditions, including liver disease and psoriasis.

In July, Virobay completed an $8 million series B round of stock financing. At the time, the company announced that it would be using the money to push its clinical programs forward, specifically for its product VBY-036.

Most of the company’s main plans focus on inhibiting cysteine cathepsin enzymes, in addition to neuropathic pain and autoimmune diseases. VBY-036 is its most advanced product candidate so far. It is the cathepsin S inhibitor that appears to play a role in neuropathic pain, substantially reducing it in patients.

Patients living with Crohn’s disease are thought to have elevated levels of cathespin S, according to a widely used preclinical mouse model. Additionally, the cathespin appears to be the enzyme that impacts the modulation of the immune system in the development of autoimmune diseases. As such, VBY-036 will likely focus on treating Crohn’s disease.

Virobay has a roster of other drugs in its portfolio being closely watched by market players. Its VBY-891 is another potent cathespin S inhibitor that is licensed on a global basis to LEO Pharma A/S for certain dermatological problems. VBY-376 is a cathespin B inhibitor that is being looked at for chronic liver injury. Chronic liver injury triggers a process that involves cathespin B, which destroys critical cells within the organ.

Similarly, its VBY-825 has been documented as an effective inhibitor of a wide variety of cathespins including S and B. Inhibiting cathespin S could potentially suppress an autoimmune attack in bile ducts.

Virobay continues to focus on the development and commercialization of drugs for neuropathic pain and autoimmune diseases.

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