GNI Ltd., a drug discovery firm based in Asia, went public on the Tokyo Stock Exchange and brought in 900 million yen (US$7.7 million) to support pipeline development in the areas of cancer and inflammation.

The company issued 10 million shares priced at 90 yen apiece. GNI's stock began trading on the TSE's Mothers market Friday under the ticker "2160." Shares closed Tuesday at 75 yen, down 6 yen.

GNI founder, Chairman and CEO Christopher Savoie, said in a press release that funds raised in the offering would be used to advance products toward commercialization as the company intends to seek partnerships for further drug discovery and development using its gene network analysis platform. Gene networks are described as circuit diagrams that show inferred cause-and-effect relationships between signaling molecules within cells so that researchers can identify drug candidates.

Though the firm was founded on the gene network drug discovery technology, the company has built capabilities for taking its own programs through preclinical and clinical development. GNI, which aims primarily at diseases prevalent in Asia, already has one product on the market: Gu Bang, a synthetic bone material approved in China in 2006 for facilitating the bone healing process.

In its pipeline, the company has F647, an oral compound in Phase II studies for treating pneumonitis induced by cancer radiation therapy and idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. It recently submitted an investigational new drug application for a second compound, F351, to treat liver fibrosis and cirrhosis.

GNI continues to look for other potential drug candidates to take into preclinical testing, and has several prospects coming down the line, including two programs aimed at oncology targets and another program based on a new inflammatory disease target.

GNI was founded in 2001, and prior to this latest offering had raised more than 3 billion yen. The company has 130 employees, as of March 31, and operates out of corporate headquarters in Tokyo, with additional offices and facilities in Shanghai, China, along with Cambridge, UK, and San Jose, Calif.

In other financings news:

• Advanced Cell Technology Inc., of Alameda, Calif., raised $10 million in a private placement to support its ongoing development programs, as well as for general corporate purposes. Funds were generated by the company closing on the private placement of $12.6 million principal amount of amortizing senior secured convertible debenture. ACT also plans to use proceeds for working capital and to finance certain costs related to its plans to acquire Mytogen Inc., of Charlestown, Mass. The companies signed a definitive merger agreement last month for ACT to buy Mytogen for $5 million in stock, along with assuming Mytogen liabilities and offering warrants to purchase an additional 1.5 million shares at 75 cents each upon certain milestones. Shares of ACT (OTC BB:ACTC) fell 3 cents Tuesday to close at 33 cents.

• BioForce Nanosciences Holdings Inc., of Ames, Iowa, raised $500,000 through the sale of 8 percent convertible preferred stock to an institutional investor. The deal also included warrants, with exercise prices ranging from 50 cents to $1.25 per share, that could bring up to $2.95 million more to BioForce. About $1.8 million of the warrants either are callable by BioForce under certain conditions, or expire if not exercised within 12 months. The placement was managed by TriPoint Global Equities LLC. BioForce is developing nanotech tools and solutions for life sciences applications.

• Merrion Pharmaceuticals Ltd., of Dublin, Ireland, set the terms of its proposed initial public offering, expecting to offer 4 million shares priced between $10 and $12 per ADS and between €7.41 and €8.91 per ordinary shares. Merrion, which filed for a $46 million IPO in the spring, is seeking listings on Nasdaq and the Irish Enterprise Exchange under the ticker "MERR." Net proceeds from the offering, which would be about $37.6 million at the midpoint price, would fund ongoing clinical development, including Phase II and Phase III programs for MER 101 in metastatic bone cancer and for MER 104 in prostate cancer and for Phase II development of MER 102 in deep-vein thrombosis. Other funds would go toward preclinical activities and for general corporate purposes. (See BioWorld Today, April 3, 2007.)

• Novacea Inc., of South San Francisco, filed a $100 million shelf registration statement with the SEC to sell, from time to time, any combination of debt securities, preferred stock, common stock and warrants in one or more offerings. Novacea, which in-licenses, develops and commercializes cancer therapies, expects that any proceeds from potential offerings would fund research and development, working capital, acquisitions or investments in complementary products or businesses and to reduce indebtedness. The company is in clinical development with two products: Asentar, which is partnered with Kenilworth, N.J.-based Schering-Plough Corp. and is in Phase III for the treatment of androgen-independent prostate cancer, and AQ4N, which has advanced into Phase I/II in glioblastoma multiforme. Novacea's shares (NASDAQ:NOVC) closed at $8.20 Tuesday, down 28 cents.

• ProMetic Life Sciences Inc., of Montreal, said it received about C$6 million (US$5.7 million) in share-purchase offers, and plans to file supplements to a short-form prospectus on file from last year. One filing would cover the sale of 11.6 million subordinate shares at C$0.35 per share, under an agreement with Paradigm Capital Inc. A second filing would cover the distribution of about 5.5 million subordinate shares at C$0.35 per share, issued directly to U.S. institutional investors. Funds will be used in development of products based on the company's Mimetic Ligand technology.

• Resverlogix Corp., of Calgary, Alberta, amended its existing $25 million of convertible debentures, which closed June 7, to change the conversion price to $8.76 from the original conversion price of $17.50. The new price was set in exchange for the removal of the interest to maturity clause contained in the original financing and a reduction of the current adjusted 14 percent interest rate to a fixed rate of 12 percent. Resverlogix, which develops small molecules to enhance ApoA-1 using its NexVas program, said the amendment increases the company's financial flexibility, though the move was not received well by Wall Street. Shares of Resverlogix (TSX:RVX) fell 19.7 percent, or C$2.33, Tuesday to close at C$9.52.

• Senesco Technologies Inc., of New Brunswick, N.J., entered agreements with Stanford Venture Capital Holdings Inc. for a private placement raising up to $5 million in secured convertible debentures with an 8 percent coupon maturing Dec. 31, 2010, pending AMEX approval. The company intends to close on $2 million on stockholder approval, with the balance expected upon the achievement of certain milestones. Proceeds will be used to advance a certain cancer target to Phase I testing, as well as other human health and agricultural research and for general corporate purposes. Senesco estimates that the financing, plus the $5 million private placement with YA Global Investments LP last month, will sustain operations for about two years. Senesco's stock (AMEX:SNT) closed at 90 cents Tuesday, up 1 cent.

• Trophos SA, of Marseille, France, raised €8.5 million (US$11.6 million) in a Series C financing. Proceeds will be used to complete Phase II studies of TRO19622 in neuropathic pain and motorneuron diseases amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and spinal muscular atrophy, and to accelerate the development of TRO40303 to proof of concept for ischemia-reperfusion injury. OTC Asset Management led the financing, with participation from CM-CIC Capital Prive, as well as existing investors Society General Asset Management, Viveris Management, Turenne Capital Partners, Blue Medial and the Association Francaise contre les Myopathies. Paul-Henry Schmelck, of OTC Asset Management, joined Trophos' board.

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