Novartis venture arm inks $200M deal with tiny Viamet

Tiny Viamet Pharmaceuticals in Morrisville, NC has snared a $200 million licensing option deal with the venture arm of Swiss pharma giant Novartis.

The Novartis Option Fund has agreed to pay up to that amount for Viamet's work on new therapies that shutter metalloenzymes, making drugs safer and more efficacious. Viamet, which was founded by chemists at UNC and Northwestern, will get part of that money as an upfront, though the numbers weren't broken down.

"Metalloenzymes are a large class of enzymes, many of which are closely related, and finding inhibitors that are potent yet selective for a specific metalloenzyme can be very challenging," said Lauren Silverman, Ph.D., managing director of the fund.

"Working with quality partners, such as Novartis, will allow us to fully exploit our technology and realize its full potential," said Viamet CEO Robert Schotzinger. The developer has a staff of eight. The Novartis Option Fund led an $18 million venture round for the company last summer. Existing investors Intersouth Partners and Hatteras Venture Partners also joined in.

- check out the Viamet's release
- here's the story from the News & Observer