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PolyMedix Inc. raised $21.2 million through a private financing round that closed following a reverse merger that enabled a public listing.

Together, the two moves provide "sufficient funds" to advance its two lead products into clinical studies and "facilitate future financings," said PolyMedix President and CEO Nicholas Landekic. The Philadelphia firm, which is developing biomimetic-based drugs that mimic protein activity for drug-resistant bacteria and acute cardiovascular disorders, sold shares of Series 1 preferred stock that are convertible into common shares by way of a private investment in the new public entity.

The listing broadens PolyMedix’s potential pool of backers for the future, exposing the business to "a much broader group of investors," Landekic told BioWorld Today. The company explored a traditional initial public offering approach, but given a market in which other firms "are having a very difficult time" trying to close such deals, especially those with early stage pipelines such as PolyMedix, the reverse merger alternative proved most advantageous.

The company has raised $27.4 million in gross proceeds since its 2002 inception, with additional support from government programs, and the latest funds are projected to last about two years. PolyMedix, which employs nine people on its staff, operates in many ways as a virtual entity and contracts out much of its work.

As previously mentioned, the new money will be used to advance its first two drug candidates, an intravenous systemic antibiotic called PMX-30016 and a heparin antagonist labeled PMX-60054, into clinical trials early next year.

Its antibacterial compounds, small molecules that mimic the activity of host-defense proteins, work by a new mechanism that targets and disrupts bacterial cell membranes and are active against Gram-positive, Gram-negative and drug-resistant bacteria. Their ability to avoid resistance has been confirmed experimentally in more than a dozen studies, Landekic said, adding that such a claim is further supported by hundreds of millions of years of evolution without widespread bacterial resistance to host-defense proteins.

Compared with conventional antibiotic drugs, these compounds have exhibited a broad spectrum of activity against more than 150 bacterial and fungal strains and a rapidly bactericidal activity that kills bacteria in seconds to minutes.

PolyMedix believes its compounds to be the only small-molecule mimetics of host-defense proteins in development. In addition to the systemic antibiotic for drug-resistant respiratory, skin structure and soft tissue infections, which the company plans to internally market in North American hospitals down the road, its portfolio includes a topical version of PMX-30016 for ophthalmic applications that also has potential uses for ear and acne, and others for antifungal indications.

In acute cardiovascular disorders, the company is developing a small-molecule anticoagulant antagonist that can reverse the activity of both heparin and low-molecular-weight heparins. The injectable product, which PolyMedix also plans to retain for North American marketing, targets the protein Factor Xa.

In addition, the company is in discussions to out-license non-therapeutic antimicrobial polymers it is developing for industrial uses in paints, plastics and textiles, giving such materials self-sterilizing qualities.

Other potential drug development programs, contingent on securing additional financing, include an angiogenesis inhibitor that blocks both VEGF and FGF for age-related macular degeneration, as well as an alpha-2-beta-1 small-molecule integrin inhibitor for use as an antithrombotic.

PolyMedix’s compounds stem from a computational drug design technology licensed from the University of Pennsylvania, and are based on the work of William DeGrado, Michael Klein and Gregory Tew. Landekic noted that the underlying drug design platform has proven most successful, with about 65 percent of compounds to date being biologically active hits, and nearly 20 percent of them leads.

DeGrado and Kline are the company’s scientific founders, with DeGrado and Landekic counted as its business founders.

Relative to the reverse merger, PolyMedix expects to file with the SEC a registration statement on Form 10-SB no later than April 16 to register its common stock under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. The company initially will pursue an Over-the-Counter listing for its shares, but will consider a future listing on the American Stock Exchange, when feasible.

Fordham Financial in New York served as the offering’s placement agent.

Cadence’s $54M Round For IV APAP

Cadence Pharmaceuticals Inc. brought in $53.8 million in a new venture capital round, funding the San Diego company’s plans for its newly in-licensed IV APAP product, an intravenous formulation of acetaminophen.

Cadence acquired U.S. and Canadian rights to IV APAP from Bristol-Myers Squibb & Co. The latest funding will be used to cover an up-front payment to the New York pharmaceutical firm and for the Phase III product’s further development. IV APAP has been marketed in Europe since 2001.

Specific financial terms related to the licensing arrangement, which remains subject to Hart-Scott Rodino clearance, were not disclosed.

The equity financing was led by Frazier Healthcare Ventures, and also included two new investors: Versant Ventures and Technology Partners. Other participation came from existing investors, including Domain Associates, ProQuest Investments, BB Biotech Ventures, CDIB BioScience Venture Management and unnamed private backers. In addition, Cadence completed a debt financing agreement providing for an additional $7 million.

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