With early stage clinical trials well under way with its first three cell therapy products, Aldagen Inc. padded its bank account with an additional $9 million in Series C financing, bringing the round's total to $23 million.

Aldagen's Series C initially pulled in $14.3 million in December, and the company decided to leave "the round open with the hope of attracting new investments, and that's exactly what happened," said Ed Field, president and chief operating officer. New investors Tullis-Dickerson, of Greenwich, Conn., and CNF Investments LLC, an affiliate of Bethesda, Md.-based Clark Enterprises Inc., came on board, joining existing investors Herbert Venture Partners LLC and Durham, N.C.-based Intersouth Partners.

All told, the financing "puts us in a solid cash position," Aldagen Chairman and CEO Tom Amick told BioWorld Today. "Now we don't have to be distracted by raising money, and we can focus on our clinical trials."

The Durham, N.C.-based company was founded on technology that enables researchers to isolate stem cells and progenitor cells from bone marrow or other sources for use in regenerative therapies. Aldagen previously succeeded in developing AldeCount, an in vitro diagnostic product, and AldeFluor, a research tool that can identify and isolate stem and progenitor cell populations, using that same technology. But its main focus has been the cell therapy market, which Amick called "a tough space," adding, "I think we're probably the only [privately held] cell therapy company to raise money this year."

But cell therapy also carries a great potential for patients, especially those severely affected by conditions such as chronic heart failure and critical limb ischemia and who have few options besides transplantation and amputation. "So if we can show significance, that would be a huge win for patients," Amick said.

Aldagen is developing ALD-201 for chronic heart failure, and ALD-301 for ischemic limb ischemia. Both products are comprised of populations of stem and progenitor cells from a patient's bone marrow, and are in Phase I/II trials, with data expected next year. But its most advanced product is ALD-101, a population of stem and progenitor cells isolated from the 20 percent fraction of a banked cord blood unit, which is in development for pediatric metabolic disorders and malignancies. Amick said the company is preparing to submit a design to the FDA for a pivotal trial of ALD-101, and enrollment could begin soon.

Funds from the Series C will go toward those programs, and Aldagen anticipates that it has sufficient capital to sustain operations through mid-2009.

For now, the company retains all rights to its three therapeutic products, though Field said it continues to discuss potential partnering opportunities, particularly for its chronic heart failure product. ALD-101, however, presents a "unique opportunity," for Aldagen, Field said, and the small company might be able to commercialize it on its own.

Exelixis Closes $72M Offering

South San Francisco-based Exelixis Inc. closed its previously announced offering, raising $72.1 million to fund clinical development, working capital and general corporate purposes.

The company entered a deal with Goldman, Sachs & Co., which purchased 7 million shares of Exelixis' common stock at $10.30 per share. Net proceeds are expected to total about $71.8 million, though Goldman, Sachs has the option to acquire an additional 1.1 million shares at the same price to cover overallotments.

Exelixis' shares (NASDAQ:EXEL) closed at $10.33 Thursday, down 3 cents.

With the funds from the public offering, along with the $253 million in the bank as of June 30 and anticipated payments related to collaborations, Exelixis expects its cash to tide the company over for at least 12 months, as it advances a broad clinical pipeline. To date, the company has filed 14 investigational new drug applications, and all are in either Phase I or Phase II testing, including three compounds - two aimed at cancer, one at diabetic nephropathy - that Exelixis out-licensed to Symphony Evolution Inc., with the option of repurchasing. The firm also is collaborating with South San Francisco-based Genentech Inc. on an early clinical-stage cancer compound.

Following the offering, Exelixis has about 104.3 million shares outstanding.

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