Wilex AG closed a Series C financing, bringing aboard €30 million (US$39 million), capital much needed as the firm works its way through Phase III trials with its lead product.

The company, which has raised more than €68 million in private financing, including €30 million in 2000, plans to use the funds in particular for the Phase III trial of Rencarex in renal-cell carcinoma, begun last June. (See BioWorld International, June 16, 2004.)

It also will fund development of WX-UK1 and WX-671, a urokinase inhibitor and an oral serine protease inhibitor, respectively.

Rencarex (WX-G250) is an antibody that binds to an MN-antigen expressed on tumor cells. It is designed to activate the body's immune system to send out natural killer cells to destroy the tumor. The trial, called ARISER (Adjuvant Rencarex Immunotherapy Trial to Study Efficacy in Non-Metastasized Renal Cell Carcinoma), is designed to evaluate Rencarex against placebo as an adjuvant therapy for patients with clear-cell renal-cell carcinoma. It is expected to enroll 612 patients in Europe and the U.S. and designed to detect a significant difference in disease-free survival.

Munich, Germany-based Wilex's non-cytotoxic small-molecule uPA inhibitors WX-UK1 and WX-671 for the treatment of breast cancer and other solid tumors are being studied in several Phase I/II trials.

Led by Merlin Biosciences, of London, the round also included Karolinska Investment Fund, of Stockholm, Sweden; Quest for Growth, of Leuven, Belgium; and Quintiles' PharmaBio Development, of North Carolina. Existing shareholders again participating included Apax Partners, also of London; TVM Techno Venture Management, of Munich; Earlybird Venture Capital, of Hamburg, Germany; and other institutional and private investors.

Salvatore D'Orsa, investment director of Merlin Biosciences, was added to Wilex's supervisory board, as was Alexandra Goll, of TVM, and Friedrich von Bohlen. Mark Clement, Erich Enghofer and Sven Warnaar resigned from the board.