Chiasma Inc. raised $44 million in a Series C round to move three programs into the clinic and advance its technology platform aimed at the oral delivery of protein-based therapeutics.

Founded in 2002 by Israeli cell biologist Shmuel Ben Sasson, with initial funding from Neve llan, Israel-based InnoMed Ventures, Chiasma is developing its Selective Cargo Delivery platform, specifically designed to develop protein drugs that can be administered orally.

Chiasma's technology has yielded some compelling early data, said Christiana Goh Bardon, of Boston-based MPM Capital LP, the investment firm that led the financing.

"We spent a lot of time researching competitors in this field," she told BioWorld Today, adding that "we were impressed with [Chiasma's] data."

Most protein drugs on the market, such as calcitonin and human growth hormone, are limited to administration through subcutaneous or intravenous injection. There also are no oral insulin products available, though early this year, New York-based Pfizer Inc. gained approval for Exubera, the first inhaled insulin, which was developed in collaboration with San Carlos, Calif.-based Nektar Therapeutics Inc. (See BioWorld Today, Jan. 30, 2006.)

What has hampered most oral protein drug development is the issue of bioavailability, the amount of protein actually detected in systemic circulation following administration. Protein drugs given by mouth tend to be degraded by the stomach, so the goal is to formulate the drug in such a way that the protein remains intact.

Chiasma's technology is designed to "encapsulate protein drugs," Bardon said, "so they can be taken through the tight junctions" of epithelial cells, which act as "gatekeepers" for the gastrointestinal tract.

Studies in animal models demonstrated that Chiasma's technology allowed large proteins to be delivered intact through the GI tract, "with a bioavailability several-fold better than existing technologies," she said.

The company has not yet disclosed details regarding compounds in its development pipeline or potential indications, but Bardon said Chiasma is gearing up to move its first program into the clinic, with several more to follow in the next few years. "The technology is broadly applicable," she said, adding that the firm intends to negotiate collaborations involving its technology to expand into additional program areas.

Funds from the Series C round are expected to take Chiasma through 2008.

MPM was joined in the financing by investment firm ARCH Venture Partners, of Chicago, and existing investors Ramat Aviv, Israel-based Ofer Hi-tech Group and London-based F-2 Ventures.

Ansbert Gadicke and Edward Scolnick, both of MPM, will join the company's board, and Robert Nelsen, of ARCH, will join as an observer.

Chiasma is based in Boston, with a research subsidiary in Jerusalem.

Emergent Prices $63M IPO

Immunobiotics firm Emergent BioSolutions Inc. priced its initial public offering of 5 million shares at $12.50 apiece for gross proceeds of $62.5 million and net proceeds of $54.7 million. That's less than the company expected when it filed an IPO in April seeking $86 million but higher than the $44.8 million average of the 26 firms that have gone public in 2006, according to BioWorld Industry Snapshots.

The Gaithersburg, Md.-based firm could pull in an additional $3.4 million through the sale of 270,000 shares to cover overallotments, which would raise its net proceeds to $57.8 million. (See BioWorld Today, April 16, 2006.)

Funds will be used for ongoing development of biodefense product candidates, including label expansions and improvements for its anthrax vaccine, BioThrax, as well as for clinical work for its commercial product candidates, which include vaccines for typhoid fever, hepatitis B and Group B Streptococcus.

About $25 million will be earmarked for costs associated with its new manufacturing facility in Lansing, Mich., and the initial engineering design and preliminary utility build out of manufacturing facilities in Frederick, Md.

Emergent, which posted a net loss of $3.3 million, or 15 cents per share, for the first nine months of 2006, had a cash position of $19.9 million as of Sept. 30.

On its first day of trading, the company's stock (NYSE:EBS) closed at $11.70, down 80 cents.

In other financings news:

• Alexion Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Cheshire, Conn., said it intends to offer 2.5 million shares of common stock in an underwritten public offering. Underwriters would receive a 30-day option to buy up to an additional 375,000 shares. The company has not yet set a share price. Its stock (NASDAQ:ALXN) closed Wednesday at $43.35, up $1.53. Goldman, Sachs & Co. and Morgan Stanley & Co. Inc. are acting as joint book-running managers, while Bear, Stearns & Co. Inc., Cowen and Co. LLC, Credit Suisse and Piper Jaffray & Co. are serving as co-managers.

• Corcept Therapeutics Inc., Menlo Park, Calif., is raising $3 million in a private placement to support investigations of the results from its Phase III trials of Corlux for psychotic features of psychotic major depression. Results from two trials, reported earlier this year, showed that the drug failed to reach statistical significance. Funds also will be used to continue development of Corlux and for working capital. The company agreed to place 3 million shares with accredited investors at a price of $1 each. Paperboy Ventures LLC is leading the investment, and is joined by Sutter Hill Ventures and members of Corcept's board. The transaction is expected to close on or about Dec. 15. Shares of Corcept (NASDAQ:CORT) closed at 84 cents Wednesday, up 1 cent. (See BioWorld Today, Aug. 28, 2006, and Oct. 2, 2006.)