By Mary Welch

Versicor Inc. closed a $40 million round of private equity financing aimed at funding its trials of LY30336, an antifungal class of drugs, and BI 397, its second-generation glycopeptide.

"This is significant funding," said George Horner, president and CEO of the Fremont, Calif.-based company. "We wanted to raise $36 million, so this gives us a lot of flexibility. It will take us through until we are able to go public."

Horner declined to speculate when the company, which spun off from Sepracor Inc. in 1995, would enter the public market.

Horner also refused to say how many shares of stock exchanged hands or what percentage of the company's equity was involved. "We're a private company and I just don't want to get into it. However, Patricof and its affiliated companies have a good position with the company."

Patricof & Co. Ventures Inc., of New York, led the round. Significant co-investors included Schroeder Ventures, of Boston, as well as Patricof's affiliated companies, Apax Partners Europe, of London, and Apax Partners France, of Paris, Horner said.

Also participating were all of the company's existing investors: HealthCare Ventures, of Boston; New Enterprise Associates, of Menlo Park, Calif.; Abingworth Management Ltd., of London; Hambrecht & Quist Capital Management, of Boston; Sepracor Inc., of Marlborough, Mass.; S.R.One Ltd., of Wayne, Pa.; and Rho Management, of New York.

The company will use the financing to further develop LY30366, which is in Phase II studies for severe fungal infections. The compound, a semi-synthetic derivative of the natural product echinocandin B, was obtained from Eli Lilly & Co., of Indianapolis, this summer.

Versicor's second compound, BI 397, is in Phase I trials for skin and skin structure as well as bacteremia. It was obtained in 1998 from Biosearch Italia SpA, of Milan, Italy.

"We have two active in vivo compounds, and we are aiming them at the $25 billion worldwide antifungal/ antibiotic market," Horner said. "They will provide important therapeutic options for the treatment of serious systemic infection in hospitalized patients."

The spectrum of these compounds encompasses the four most common causes of bloodstream infections in U.S. hospitals. BI 397, an anti-bacteria drug, will be used against Staphylococcus epidermidis, Staphylococcus aureus and enterococci, while LY30336 will battle against Candida.

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