BioWorld International Correspondent

Borean Pharma A/S raised €4 million (US$5.2 million) in new funding round, taking its total funding to date to €15 million and providing it with sufficient cash to finance its operations until the third quarter of 2006.

Aravis Venture, of Zurich, Switzerland, led the transaction, while existing investors BankInvest, of Copenhagen, Denmark; Novi A/S, of Aalborg East, Denmark; and Incuba Venture, of Aarhus, Denmark, also participated.

"The round is still open so we might be able to raise more money," CEO Johanna Holldack said. "In this environment you need to take what you can get."

Aarhus-based Borean will use most of the proceeds for its preclinical tumor necrosis factor-alpha antagonist program. The compound is derived from its library of antibody mimics, which it has engineered by altering the binding loops of tetranectin, a C-type lectin found in human plasma and tissue.

In cell-based assays, its candidate TNF-alpha antagonist exhibited promising activity compared with Remicade (infliximab) and Enbrel (etanercept), marketed, respectively, by Johnson & Johnson subsidiary Centocor Inc., of Malvern, Pa., and Wyeth, of Madison, N.J. Moreover, both of those drugs, Holldack said, have been associated with the development of neutralizing antibodies. As tetranectin is a human protein, the same problem should not to arise. "Therefore there might be room for a second-generation product," he said.

The company is applying the same concept to several other well-known drug targets, although it has not yet disclosed details of those programs. "We have a whole battery of compounds we are working on," Holldack said.

The company also is looking to partner its other principal preclinical program, a trimerized form of apolipoprotein-AI, the key protein component of high-density lipoprotein, which has been associated with cholesterol-lowering effects. "We have several material transfer agreements in place so companies are looking at it very closely," Holldack said. Borean gained ownership of the compound last year, when it acquired Proteopharma A/S, also of Aarhus. (See BioWorld International, Feb. 25, 2004.)