Sophiris Moves to Unlock Blockbuster Potential in New Prostate Drug

7/10/12Follow @bvbigelow

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recruit experienced drug developers to Vancouver. The board decided to make a fresh start, with a new management team and a new round of funding.

So far, the company has raised a total of roughly $55 million from investors, according to a spokesman for Sophiris. Before 2010, the company (which trades on the Toronto Stock Exchange) was funded through a series of small private placement transactions arranged with Canadian investors. In this way, B.C. Advantage Funds, a venture capital business in British Columbia, acquired a “significant” stake in the company.

Sophiris’s re-start officially began in September, 2010, when Protox entered into an investment agreement with Warburg Pincus, the global private equity firm, in which Warburg agreed to invest as much as $34.4 million (CND $35 million) in the company. Of the total, Warburg has invested $27.5 million (CND $28 million) so far.

“The reason I took on this job was that I had spearheaded the due diligence team for Warburg, and I found that this has an absolutely unique asset with a very attractive mechanism for action,” says Ekman. Sofinnova did not participate in the round, but might if the opportunity arises. “Warburg had a chance to do this deal, and they needed to do it fast, so they took the whole deal,” he explains.

Under Ekman, the company also relocated in San Diego, where he says there is an abundance of experienced drug developers. “The current team [about 11 employees and twice as many consultants] has 20 drug approvals under their belt,” he says. In April, the company changed its name to Sophiris Bio, and began trading in Toronto under the new ticker symbol SHS.

Sophiris describes its experimental compound, PRX 302, as a recombinant form of the proaerolysin protein, a large molecule with a specialized group of molecules at one end known as a carboxyl terminus. The carboxyl group acts like a lock that inhibits the … Next Page »

Bruce V. Bigelow is the editor of Xconomy San Diego. You can e-mail him at bbigelow@xconomy.com or call (619) 669-8788 Follow @bvbigelow

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