BioWorld International Correspondent

PARIS - Diatos SA, which a year ago failed to complete a planned initial public offering in which it hoped to raise €25 million (US$34 million) in an operation that would have left 26 percent of its capital in public hands, has completed a Series D private funding round that netted it €9.4 million.

The round was led by six existing investors, namely: GIMV, of Antwerp; Crédit Agricole Private Equity, of Paris; InterWest Partners, of Menlo Park, CA; Innoven Partenaires, of Paris; Sofinnova Partners, of Paris; and Biotech Fund Flanders (a fund managed by GIMV).

Four new investors also participated in this round: AGF Private Equity, of Paris; NIF SMBC, of Tokyo; Sopartec, of Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium; and Société Générale Asset Management, of Paris. The funding round brings the total equity capital raised by Paris-based Diatos since its inception in 1999 to €54.8 million.

Commenting on the financing, the company's President and CEO, John Tchelingerian, said: "With this financing, we will focus on taking our clinical and preclinical products forward to their next stage of maturity and achieve significant development and value-creation milestones."

Diatos is developing a range of anticancer therapies utilizing two proprietary platforms - its Tumor-Selective Prodrug (TSP) technology and its Vectocell peptide-based intracellular delivery system. The company has a portfolio of three products in clinical and preclinical development and intends to continue focusing on the generation of new TSP-based drugs.

The two candidates Diatos has in clinical development are: DTS-301, a polymer gel formulation of paclitaxel depot, which has completed a Phase IIa trial in esophageal cancer and is about to enter a Phase IIb/III trial; and DTS-201, a doxorubicin prodrug that recently completed a Phase I trial in solid tumors and is due to enter a Phase II trial shortly.

In addition, Diatos is about to initiate preclinical toxicology studies of DTS-108, a new-generation prodrug of SN-38, the active metabolite in irinotecan, an anticancer agent marketed by Pfizer. DTS-108 is the first product to emerge from Diatos' Vectocell platform and is a formulation of irinotecan that has reduced gastric side effects, lower hematotoxicity and increased efficacy since it permits far higher doses.

Diatos also has a product on the market - DaunoXome, a liposomal formulation of daunorubicin that is sold in more than 20 countries for the treatment of HIV-related Kaposi's sarcoma. Diatos acquired worldwide development and commercialization rights to DaunoXome in Kaposi's sarcoma and other potential indications under an agreement signed with Gilead Sciences, Inc., of Foster City, CA, in May 2006.

The French company now is planning to commercialize DaunoXome in Europe for the treatment of acute leukemia. It has filed the product as a treatment for AML (acute myeloid leukemia) and ALL (acute lymphatic leukemia) with European regulatory authorities and is awaiting marketing approval. A Phase III trial of the drug in elderly AML patients demonstrated a better clinical outcome for those receiving the product as a first-line treatment compared with those administered regular daunorubicin.