Preparing for upcoming clinical trials in secondary hyperparathyroidism and vitamin D deficiency in chronic kidney disease, Cytochroma Inc. pulled in C$21 million (US$17.9 million) in a venture round.

The financing was led by Toronto-based VenGrowth Advanced Life Sciences Fund, Bagsvaerd, Denmark-based Novo A/S and Montreal-based GeneChem Technologies Venture Fund. To date, Cytochroma has raised about C$60 million.

Executives from Cytochroma could not be reached for comment, but the privately held Canadian firm expects to use the latest funding to support Phase II and Phase III trials, which are scheduled to begin this year to test its three lead products. All are designed to target vitamin D deficiency and related diseases affecting CKD patients, namely those in disease Stages III through V. That's a market that is projected to grow from 6.5 million to more than 9 million people in North America within the next three years, and for which there is no existing effective therapy.

Cytochroma's first product, CTAP201, is at the Phase II stage as both an oral and intravenous treatment for secondary hyperparathyroidism in CKD, a condition characterized by an excess secretion of parathyroid hormone that stems from vitamin D deficiency. Next up, the company has a follow-on compound, CTA018, a vitamin D analogue designed with a dual mechanism of action to activate the vitamin D hormone receptor while improving efficacy by preventing vitamin D catabolism.

A third product, CTAP103, is aimed at treating vitamin deficiency in CKD.

Beyond its work in the CKD indication, Markham, Ontario-based Cytochroma also is developing vitamin D therapies for hyperproliferative disorders, such as psoriasis and cancer. In November, the company started enrolling psoriasis patients in a Phase II study of a topical formulation of CTA018, and it is in preclinical development with two oral compounds for cancer.

The company bolstered its vitamin D drug pipeline in June, with the acquisition of Madison, Wis.-based Proventiv Therapeutics LLC. Terms of that deal were not disclosed.

In other financings news:

• Cortex Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Irvine, Calif., said several institutional investors agreed to purchase about $5.6 million of common stock and warrants in a registered direct offering. Under the terms, the company will sell about 5 million shares and warrants to purchase about 3.3 million shares at an exercise price of $1.66 per share. Proceeds will be used to accelerate the development of Cortex's Ampakine technology, and also will go toward licensing activities, working capital, capital expenditures and other general corporate purposes. Roth Capital Partners LLC acted as exclusive placement agent. Shares of Cortex (AMEX:COR) dropped 26 cents, or 19.6 percent, Wednesday to close at $1.07.

• EyeGate Pharma Inc., of Paris, closed a $2 million extension of its Series B round, bringing the total financing round to $12 million. The additional funding comes from the Nexus Group. The company's first tranche was co-led by Innoven Partenaires and existing investor Ventech, both of Paris. To date, EyeGate has brought in about $16 million in venture funding. Thomas Hancock, of the Nexus Group, joined EyeGate's board.

• Isis Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Carlsbad, Calif., intends to raise about $125 million through a private placement offering of convertible subordinated notes due 2027. The company also agreed to grant the initial purchasers a 30-day option to buy up to an additional $37.5 million aggregate principal amount of notes. Isis expects to use the proceeds to repurchase, retire or repay its 5.5 percent convertible subordinated notes due 2009, with any remaining proceeds going toward general corporate and working capital purposes. Shares of Isis (NASDAQ:ISIS) lost 83 cents Wednesday to close at $11.25.