West Coast Editor

Aiming to start patient enrollment in a Phase III trial with its lead compound this fall, Sonus Pharmaceuticals Inc. raised about $16.8 million in net proceeds through the sale of about 4.65 million shares of stock at $3.77 each.

Sonus' stock (NASDAQ:SNUS) closed Wednesday at $4.02, down 6 cents.

For 12.5 cents more per underlying share, investors also bought five-year warrants for about 2.33 million shares of common stock at an exercise price of $4.15 each, which was the closing bid price for Sonus' shares last Friday, the last day of trading before the stock sale deal was made.

Company officials could not be reached for comment.

Last month, Sonus completed a special protocol assessment for Tocosol Paclitaxel, an improved version of the well-known chemotherapy drug that uses vitamin E-based oil-in-water emulsion for delivery, and the target for starting Phase III enrollment is the end of September. As Taxol, the chemotherapeutic agent paclitaxel was introduced in 1993 by Bristol-Myers Squibb Co., of New York. (See BioWorld Today, July 11, 2005.)

The Sonus trial, at about 150 centers - two-thirds of them overseas - will compare the antitumor efficacy, tolerability and safety of Tocosol Paclitaxel to Taxol in about 800 breast cancer patients, who will be equally randomized to get one of the two drugs.

Sonus presented data from a pharmacology trial at this year's meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology that showed Tocosol Paclitaxel delivered almost twice the exposure to paclitaxel than Taxol alone. The company also has submitted an abstract on the Phase IIb study with its compound in metastatic breast cancer to the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium, to be held in early December. That study yielded an objective response rate of 53 percent, with at least one complete response.

Earlier this year, Sonus backed out of a $30 million deal to merge with the French drug company Synt:em, citing the time required to answer SEC questions about the proxy statement and schedule a special shareholder meeting to approve the deal.

Sonus had the option of making a €500,000 (then US$668,862) loan to Nimes, France-based Synt:em, thus extending the deadline to finish the takeover, but company officials decided to call off the deal entirely and focus on Tocosol Paclitaxel. (See BioWorld Today, March 18, 2005.)

Investors in the latest financing included Domain Public Equity Partners, of Princeton, N.J.; Efficacy Capital, of San Diego; MPM BioEquities, of Boston; ProMed, of New York; and Heights Capital Management, of San Francisco. New York-based Punk Ziegel & Co. served as placement agent.