Virobay banks $8M to accelerate its treatments for pain, autoimmunity

Menlo Park, CA, biotech Virobay tacked another $8 million onto its Series B financing, collecting cash to advance its treatments for neuropathic pain, autoimmune disease and fibrosis.

The latest tranche brings Virobay's B round to $18 million in total, adding new investor Perceptive Advisors to a syndicate that includes TPG Biotech, Alta Partners and AbbVie ($ABBV).

With the new money, Virobay plans to hit the gas on its pipeline of Phase I protease inhibitors, including VBY-036, a treatment for pain and autoimmunity, and VBY-376, which has applications in fibrosis and nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH).

The biotech also has a preclinical candidate for primary biliary cirrhosis and discovery-stage assets for autoimmune disease, cancer and Alzheimer's disease. Virobay's most advanced treatment is the Phase I psoriasis treatment VBY-091, licensed to Denmark's Leo Pharma in a deal worth up to $307 million.

Each candidate is based on Virobay's platform for developing small-molecule inhibitors of cathepsins, a subclass of proteases that play a role in cellular function and are implicated in a variety of diseases.

The company, founded in 2006 as a spinout of Celera Genomics, operates under the virtual model, maintaining a small in-house staff and tapping external contractors to do the heavy lifting.

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