Avidia Inc. closed a $28.5 million Series B preferred stock financing that should take its product through proof-of-concept studies.

"What this money allows us to do is to move forward our lead programs into the clinic," said Victor Perlroth, the company's general manager and a co-founder. "With the first program, we will bring it all the way through a Phase I/II multiple-dose study."

Perlroth expects the funds to take Avidia through the end of 2007. An investigational new drug application for the first product, designed to treat inflammation and autoimmune disease, will be filed in the second quarter of 2006. The company plans to stagger its other preclinical products, moving them into humans one at a time.

"The funding is sufficient for us to have a portfolio of internal products," Perlroth told BioWorld Today.

Founded in 2003 by Perlroth and Willem Stemmer, Mountain View, Calif.-based Avidia has kept a relatively low profile while it developed its platform technology. Formed as a spinout of Redwood City, Calif.-based Maxygen Inc. - a company also founded by Stemmer - Avidia focuses on delivering biotherapeutic proteins that contain multiple domains. The company's products, which are structured similar to little beads on a string, can bind simultaneously to multiple protein targets, inhibiting or inducing a specific biologic function.

"They provide alternatives to antibodies," Perlroth said. "So today, they're an alternative. In the future, we would hope this technology would become a gold standard, like antibodies."

The company's proteins might provide an advantage over antibodies or antibody fragments in terms of biologic activity, tissue distribution, lack of immunogenicity and manufacturing cost, due to their small size and versatility.

"Our molecules are much smaller, they're 10 times smaller than antibodies, so we think there are a number of benefits there," Perlroth said.

Like antibodies, Avidia's technology can be applied across several different therapeutic areas. It also allows the company to work in the same areas of antibody research, but without infringing on established antibody intellectual property.

"Our proteins have no relation whatsoever, structurally, to an antibody, and yet our proteins can act like an antibody," Perlroth said.

Avidia's lead compound, a potential treatment for inflammation and autoimmune disease, is in the hands of Avidia's manufacturing partner, Boehringer Ingelheim Austria, of Vienna, for cGMP product.

Perlroth said Avidia is focused mainly on its platform technology and churning out products. Avidia most likely will take its products through clinical proof of concept, and then partner them out for Phase III trials.

The company also has a business development plan to establish collaborations for its technology. The interest is already there, Perlroth said, citing Series B investments from MedImmune Ventures, of Gaithersburg, Md., and Amgen Ventures, of San Diego.

"That's just reflective of the large amount of corporate interest we see in the technology," Perlroth said.

San Francisco-based TPG Ventures also invested. The financing also included participation from existing investors and was led by Morgenthaler Ventures, of Menlo Park, Calif., which is placing its general partner, Chris Christoffersen, on Avidia's board. Franklin Top, a senior vice president at MedImmune Ventures, also will join the Avidia board.

Avidia, which has 22 employees, last raised about $3.7 million in a Series A financing, conducted during its July 2003 founding. Investors in that round included Alloy Ventures and Maxygen, as well as individuals, such as Peter Van Vlasselaer, a former senior vice president of technical operations at Brisbane, Calif.-based InterMune Inc., who now leads Avidia as CEO.