Infectious disease company Immtech International Inc. is bringing in $16 million in a public offering to fund ongoing research and development efforts, including activities related to its lead product, DB289, in late-stage trials.

The Vernon Hills, Ill.-based firm is offering 2 million shares of its common stock priced at $8 each. In addition, it intends to grant underwriters an additional 300,000 shares to cover overallotments, which would bring the total financing to $18.4 million. The offering is expected to close Feb. 13.

Immtech could not be reached for comment, but its prospectus said proceeds would be used for general corporate purposes, including research and development and commercialization.

In August, the company initiated a Phase III trial under a special protocol assessment to evaluate its oral drug, DB289, as a treatment for trypanosomiasis, or African sleeping sickness. The study is expected to enroll about 250 Stage I patients at sites in the Democratic Republic of Congo who will be randomized to receive either Immtech’s drug or an intramuscular injection of pentamidine, the existing standard of care.

Trypanosomiasis, caused by parasites transmitted by infected tsetse flies, results in fever and lymph node inflammation, and can lead to neurological impairment and death. Stage I patients are those infected with the parasites in the blood and lymph nodes.

Immtech also plans to initiate a Phase III study of DB289 this year in HIV patients with pneumocystic pneumonia. The product is in Phase II testing in malaria.

Behind DB289, the company is conducting early research on drugs to treat systemic fungal infections and tuberculosis. Immtech owns the rights to a library of compounds with potential in other indications, as well.

Its work has been funded over the years primarily by grant money, including a total of $11.7 million for work on DB289 in trypanosomiasis through a collaboration with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The company also received about $4 million through an agreement with Geneva-based Medicines for Malaria Venture for work with DB289 against malaria.

For the quarter ending Sept. 30, Immtech reported a net loss of $5.2 million, or 45 cents per share. Its cash and cash equivalents totaled $3.1 million, though the company added about $3.3 million through a private placement in December.

Shares of Immtech (AMEX:IMM) closed at $7.94 Wednesday, down 58 cents.

Ferris, Baker Watts Inc., of Baltimore, is acting as the sole book-running manager and underwriter.

EpiCept Completes $11.6M Placement

A month after closing its merger with Maxim Pharmaceuticals Inc., EpiCept Corp. raised $11.6 million in a private placement to advance clinical candidates in cancer and pain.

The company agreed to issue about 4.1 million shares of its common stock at $2.85 per share, plus five-year warrants to purchase up to 1 million shares of stock at an exercise price of $4 each. The warrants are expected to become exercisable six months after the closing.

New York-based Rodman & Renshaw LLC acted as the exclusive placement agent.

"We’re very happy to welcome a new group of quality institutional investors to EpiCept as a newly public company," said Jack Talley, CEO of the Englewood Cliffs, N.J.-based company.

"This money is going to be very important for our ability to achieve value" for investors and shareholders during the next year, he added.

EpiCept was a privately held company in September, when it agreed to acquire San Diego-based Maxim in a stock deal valued at about $136 million. The merger left EpiCept shareholders with about 72 percent of the combined company and listings on the Nasdaq and Stockholm exchanges. (See BioWorld Today, Sept. 7, 2005.)

The company’s shares (NASDAQ:EPCT) lost 48 cents Wednesday to close at $3.42.

EpiCept, which developed pain products at its New Jersey headquarters prior to the merger, will add Maxim’s cancer drugs to its development pipeline. With the closing of the merger, the company has been consolidating operations at the San Diego facility, which will continue conducting research focusing on apoptosis inducers for cancer drug development, Talley said.

Proceeds from the recent financing, combined with proceeds from the Maxim merger, are expected to "provide more than adequate capital to take us to the second quarter of 2007," Talley told BioWorld Today.

He said funds will be used primarily to support the development of several clinical candidates, including Ceplene (histamine dihydrochloride), a cancer drug from Maxim’s pipeline that showed a statistically significant improvement early last year in a Phase III study as a remission-free maintenance therapy for acute myeloid leukemia. Though the FDA informed Maxim that another Phase III would be needed for approval in the U.S., EpiCept is "planning for a European submission later this year," Talley said. (See BioWorld Today, Feb. 10, 2005.)

The company also expects to finish a Phase III trial of Lido PAIN SP as a treatment for postoperative surgical incisional pain, and to begin a Phase IIb study in LidoPAIN BP in acute back pain. LidoPAIN BP is being developed in collaboration with Chadds Ford, Pa.-based Endo Pharmaceuticals Inc.

"We also plan to initiate pivotal Phase III trials with our topical analgesic cream, EpiCept NP-1," Talley said. EpiCept NP-1 is designed to provide long-term relief in peripheral neuropathy and postherpetic neuralgia.

Following the offering, the company will have about 24.5 million shares of stock outstanding.

In other financing news:

• Biomira Inc., of Edmonton, Alberta, completed its previously announced $16.1 million private placement financing through New York-based Rodman & Renshaw LLC. The company plans to use proceeds to fund ongoing research and product development, including preclinical and clinical studies and advancing products toward commercialization. Biomira focuses on the development of therapeutic approaches to cancer management in the form of vaccines and immunotherapies. (See BioWorld Today, Jan. 30, 2006.)

• Callisto Pharmaceuticals Inc., of New York, completed a $5.1 million private placement involving common stock and warrants, with proceeds to fund strategic initiatives, including clinical and preclinical development. Callisto placed 4.3 million shares of stock and about 1.1 million warrants at a per share price of $1.20. The warrants are exercisable at $1.60 for a period of 18 months from closing. Callisto has two cancer drugs in clinical development: L-Annamycin for treating relapsed leukemia, and Atiprimod, in Phase I/II testing in relapsed multiple myeloma. In preclinical development, the company has drugs for gastrointestinal inflammation and to be used against Staphylococcus and Streptococcus biowarfare agents. Shares of Callisto (AMEX:KAL) closed Wednesday at $1.49, down 4 cents.

• Valera Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Cranbury, N.J., closed its initial public offering of 3.75 million shares of stock priced at $9 per share, and said underwriter Banc of America partially exercised its overallotment option and purchased an additional 112,500 shares. Net proceeds are expected to be about $30.3 million, and will go toward ongoing development of Valera’s implantable drug pipeline, including VP002, which started a pivotal trial in September 2004 for hormonal treatment of central precocious puberty. IPO funds also will support clinical trials for VP006 in nocturnal enuresis, as well as Phase IIb trials for VP003 in acromegaly, and Phase I/II studies for VP004 in addiction disorders. Valera’s stock (NASDAQ:VLRX) lost 37 cents Wednesday to close at $9.03. (See BioWorld Today, Feb. 3, 2006.)

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