Durham drug-development company Scynexis files for IPO

dranii@newsobserver.comFebruary 27, 2014 

Durham drug-development company Scynexis is the latest in a string of Triangle biotechnology companies seeking to go public.

Scynexis, which spun out of Aventis in 2000 and today has 90 employees, filed plans for an initial public offering Thursday. The company hasn’t yet disclosed how much it hopes to raise through its IPO or how much stock it plans to sell.

Scynexis doesn’t yet have a drug on the market and is years away from having one. Its leading drug candidate is an intravenous drug for treating serious and life-threatening fungal infections. It licensed the drug from pharmaceutical giant Merck last year.

The drug, SCY-078, demonstrated in animal studies that it is effective against a broad range of fungal species accounting for 85 percent of the fungal infections in the U.S. and Europe. Two of the most serious species of fungal infections that SCY-078 has demonstrated effectiveness against account for more than 600,000 cases of serious infections in the U.S. and Europe each year, according to Scynexis.

The company expects to begin enrolling patients for a Phase 2 study of an oral version of SCY-078 in the second half of this year. The company also would have to complete a larger Phase 3 study before it can seek marketing approval from regulators.

Scynexis also is working on an intravenous version of SCY-078.

Three Triangle biotech companies went public in 2013, and two more companies – Argos Therapeutics and NephroGenex – have navigated successful IPOs so far this year.

Net loss last year

Scynexis CEO Yves Ribeill couldn’t be reached for comment on the company’s IPO plans. The company’s chairman is Pamela Kirby, who was CEO of Quintiles from 2001 to 2003.

Last year Scynexis generated $16.9 million in revenue but posted a net loss of $30.5 million. Its revenue came from research-and-development services it performed for other companies.

Scynexis needs the money that an IPO would provide. As of Dec. 31, it had $1.4 million in cash. It has earmarked $15 million of the proceeds it would receive from an IPO to pay down a loan with HSBC Bank.

Scynexis’ accounting firm, Deloitte & Touche, noted that the company’s recurring losses and negative cash flows “raise substantial debate about the company’s ability to continue as a going concern.”

Scynexis noted in its filing that it expects to receive continued support from its existing investors, which, combined with a successful IPO, “would enable the company to carry on its activities and meet its obligations for at least the next 12 months.”

Scynexis hopes to trade on Nasdaq under the symbol “SCYX.”

Ranii: 919-829-4877

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