BioWorld International Correspondent

PARIS - Nautilus Biotech SA completed a funding round in which it raised €8.4 million (US$11.3 million) from eight industrial and financial investors, all of which already were shareholders in the company.

The participants in the financing included Creabilis Biotech, of Turin, an Italian biotechnology company with which Nautilus is engaged in a research collaboration. Six of the other investors were Paris-based venture capital funds: Edmond de Rothschild Investment Partners, Auriga Partners, Matignon Technologies, Pre-IPO Invest, 123 Ventures and FCJE. The other was Genopole Premier Jour, the venture capital arm of the French national biotechnology science and business park in Evry, where Nautilus Biotech is based.

Nautilus Biotech CEO Manuel Vega declined to disclose details of the individual amounts invested or the present distribution of shareholdings.

Nautilus plans to use the funds to advance the initial clinical development of its two lead products, Belerofon, its proprietary variant of human interferon alpha, and Vitatropin, a variant of human growth hormone. Each has a single amino acid replacement, making them both long-lasting in serum following injection and, unlike other versions, Nautilus has succeeded in developing formulations that can be administered orally.

At the beginning of April, Nautilus initiated a Phase I clinical trial of subcutaneous Belerofon in the U.S., after the FDA approved the investigational new drug application it submitted in October. Belerofon has therapeutic potential in a number of disease areas, including chronic hepatitis C. The trial is evaluating the safety, tolerability, pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of SC Belerofon in comparison with IntronA (Schering-Plough Corp.) and Pegasys (pegylated interferon alfa-2a; Hoffmann-La Roche Inc.).

Nautilus submitted a second IND to the FDA in March for its oral formulation of Belerofon, the first of its proteins for which the company has developed an oral formulation using its protein engineering technology. In addition, Nautilus expects to submit an IND filing for Vitatropin to the FDA in 2007.

Nautilus' product portfolio also includes interferon beta, erythropoietin, interferon gamma, clotting factor IX (which it is developing in collaboration with Wyeth, of Madison, N.J.) and high mobility group box one (HMGB1) box A protein (the object of its collaboration with Creabilis Biotech).

In November, Nautilus and Creabilis reported that they had demonstrated increased biological activity and resistance to proteolysis for HMGB1 Box A in in vitro tests, describing it as an important technical milestone in their collaboration.

They are seeking to discover a potential drug candidate for the treatment of pathologies related to HMGB1 and RAGE (receptor for advanced glycation end products), which include hepatitis B, rheumatoid arthritis, melanoma and sepsis.

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