Versicor Inc. completed a private placement that raised gross proceeds of $44.9 million, money that will be used to continue development of its two lead compounds, anidulafungin and dalbavancin.

Versicor, of Fremont, Calif., placed about 3 million shares at about $15 per share.

“It presents us with incremental cash and incremental milestones for the year 2002 you can never have enough cash,” said George Horner III, president and CEO of Versicor. “It insulates our position to actuate everything.”

With the private placement, Versicor’s cash position is about $90 million.

In addition to funding clinical trials of its two lead compounds, Versicor said it will use the funding for research and development, as well as working capital and general corporate purposes.

Anidulafungin, or V-Echinocandin, belongs to a new class of antifungal agents called echinocandins. It is in Phase III trials for esophageal candidiasis and aspergillosis, as well as a Phase II trial for invasive candidiasis/candidemia. The company is on track to file a new drug application for anidulafungin late this year, Horner said. (See BioWorld Today, March 23, 2001.)

Versicor has dalbavancin in Phase II trials for skin and soft-tissue infections and bloodstream infections. The company gained U.S. and Canadian rights to dalbavancin from Biosearch Italia SpA, of Gerenzano, Italy. A Phase II study begun in March is for treatment of bloodstream infections that are catheter related. Dalbavancin is being developed as the first once-weekly treatment for Staphylococcal and other Gram-positive hospital infections.

“We are going to build our business in and around our top two compounds because these are both injectable compounds [that we can] sell in hospitals,” Horner said.

The company has three major collaborations. With Pharmacia Corp., of Peapack, N.J., Versicor is working to find the next generation of oxazolidinones after Zyvox, which is marketed by Pharmacia. Horner said the companies are looking for a product candidate with “improved potency or an improved spectrum.”

With Novartis AG, of Basel, Switzerland, Versicor is working to develop a new class of antibacterials that works by inhibiting peptide deformylase, a bacterium not found in humans. The companies began the collaboration, valued at up to $38 million, in 1999. (See BioWorld Today, April 2, 1999.)

“We jointly feel that a compound will sell $1.5 billion out of this class,” Horner said.

Versicor also is collaborating with Biosearch Italia, which Horner said allows the companies to access natural product leads, the source of 90 percent of antimicrobials.

“We are making excellent progress to find something either that we can partner or add to our own proprietary business,” Horner said.

If the companies find injectable compounds, then Versicor would get North American rights and Biosearch Italia European rights. If they find oral compounds, they would partner with a pharmaceutical company and share the rewards 50-50, Horner said.

Versicor’s stock (NASDAQ:VERS) fell $1.32 Thursday to close at $16.93.