Skincare startup bags $50M to get its acne drug into Phase III

Durham, NC's Novan Therapeutics raised $50 million to bankroll a new treatment for acne, persuading the high-profile European investor Malin to buy into the idea.

The biotech's top prospect is SB204, a nitric oxide-based acne treatment now in Phase IIb. Novan expects to have data from that study in hand by next quarter, and the company plans to put its newfound cash toward a Phase III program, looking to begin enrollment in the first quarter of 2016.

Investing in Novan marks one of the first moves for Malin, an Irish outfit with some Elan veterans at the helm. Malin took flight this month with a €330 million ($357 million) IPO, promising its backers that it can pick winners in biotech and tying its fees to the success of its investments.

And Novan fits Malin's bill, fund founder and ex-Elan CEO Kelly Martin said, advancing a treatment with a clear path to regulatory approval and commercial success. And Neal Hunter, the biotech's chairman, said Novan is designed to keep building on the potential of its nitric oxide platform.

"We believe the promise of Novan's pipeline and our advancement toward commercialization enabled us to attract strong participation in this round, leading us to close at twice the original target of $25 million," Hunter said in a statement. "The funds secured will support Novan's efforts to create impactful, first-in-class, nitric oxide-based healthcare solutions in a number of large market indications."

Beyond SB204, Novan is developing SB206, a topical antiviral therapy designed to treat human papillomavirus infections. The company is planning to get that drug, also derived from nitric oxide, into Phase II next quarter.

- read the statement

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