A Morrisville drug company co-founded by UNC-Chapel Hill Chancellor Holden Thorp has raised $18 million.
The company, Viamet Pharmaceuticals, plans to use the money to move its treatments into clinical trials. Viamet, which employs six people, targets a class of enzymes called metalloenzymes that contain a metal, typically zinc or iron.
About 10 percent of drugs on the market work because they shut down the activity of key metalloenzymes, Robert Schotzinger, Viamet's CEO, said Tuesday. The technology Viamet is developing promises to improve existing drugs, making medicines safer and more effective, he said.
Viamet was founded in 2005 by Thorp and Thomas O'Halloran, a chemistry professor at Northwestern University. The company last raised money in June 2007 in a $4 million Series A round.
The Series B funding announced Tuesday was led by the Novartis Option Fund and Lilly Ventures. Existing investors who participated included Intersouth Partners and Hatteras Venture Partners, both of Durham.
Lilly Ventures, a subsidiary of Eli Lilly and Co., "invests in companies with promising technologies that have the potential to generate multiple, 'best in class' products," managing director Ed Torres wrote in a statement. "We believe that Viamet represents just such an opportunity."