Verona Pharma, with Raleigh HQ, lands additional $30M from Silicon Valley Bank

Verona Pharma has landed an additional $30 million in financing to support its “first-in-class” drug candidate, ensifentrine, targeting chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Verona PharmaThe British clinical-stage biotech firm with U.S. headquarters in Raleigh secured the funds from Silicon Valley Bank.

It comes on the heels of a $200 million raise in July.

“This will provide additional support, as needed, for pre-commercialization activities for ensifentrine,” its president and CEO David Zaccardelli said.

“We believe Verona Pharma has sufficient resources to deliver on our key milestones.”

The drug is currently in Phase 3 trials.

If successfully developed and approved, it would be the first therapy for treating respiratory diseases that combines bronchodilator and anti-inflammatory activities in one compound.

Under the terms of the deal, Verona Pharma can borrow up to $30 million in three tranches: $5 million at closing, $10 million available through June 30, 2022 and an additional $15 million available through June 30, 2023.

“The two latter tranches are contingent upon achievement of certain clinical development milestones and other specified conditions,” the company said in a statement.

Encouraging results

Verona Pharma kicked off its Phase 3 clinical program — ENHANCE (Ensifentrine as a Novel inHAled Nebulized COPD thErapy), back in September.

The company has a clinical team of about 10 women based here in the Triangle, most of them ex-GlaxoSmithKline employees, working with global contract organization IQVIA to carry out the Phase 3 trials.

Verona CEO David Zaccardelli
David Zaccardelli
Verona Pharma CEO and president

The trials consist of two international studies: each is expected to enroll about 800 patients at 100 sites, mostly in the US, Europe and other countries, including South Korea.

Separately, against the backdrop of a pandemic, the company is also exploring the option of repurposing its leading drug candidate to treat COVID-19 patients.

It is currently conducting a pilot clinical trial on hospitalized COVID-19 patients at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

The randomized double-blind, placebo-controlled study is testing ensifentrine delivered through a pressurized metered-dose inhaler.

Results are expected in the first half of 2021.

“We’re prepared to move as quickly as possible based on the data,” Zaccardelli told the North Carolina Biotechnology Center earlier this month.

Chantal Allam, NCBiotech Writer
Wed, 11/25/2020 - 09:37