Washington Editor

Metaphore Pharmaceuticals Inc. raised $40.2 million in a Series D private equity financing to fund development and commercialization of intravenous and oral formulations of M40403 for pain.

Alan Dunton, president and CEO of the Fort Lee, N.J.-based firm, told BioWorld Today Metaphore now has $45 million in cash and expects it to last through 2005, or perhaps longer. The company raised $30 million in its Series C two years ago. (See BioWorld Today, July 11, 2002.)

The company completed the latest financing Aug. 11, but disclosed the round Tuesday. Privately held Metaphore has 34 million outstanding shares.

M40403iv, the firm's lead compound, is a synthetic version of a naturally occurring enzyme produced by the body and known as superoxide dismutase (SOD). SOD functions to neutralize free radicals, thereby reducing inflammation, preventing tissue injury and reducing pain, the company said.

The IV version of the compound is the subject of two Phase II trials, one in post-operative pain and the other in cancer pain.

Dunton expects to file a new drug application on the IV version in early 2006. Meanwhile, Metaphore is studying an oral version of the compound in cancer pain and chronic non-malignant pain.

In April the company released positive results from an earlier Phase II study demonstrating that the addition of M40403 to morphine (an opioid) improved the pain-relieving effects of morphine in every measure of analgesic efficacy, including faster onset, longer duration, greater peak effect and greater overall effect.

Also, the company said, the addition of M40403 increased pain relief without increasing problematic side effects associated with morphine.

Independent studies conducted by the National Institute on Drug Abuse have found no addictive properties or abuse liabilities in M40403.

Metaphore's other product, M40419, also an SOD mimetic drug, is being studied in neuropathic pain. The IV version of that drug is in Phase I studies, while the oral version is in preclinical development.

Participants in the Series D include existing investors HealthCare Ventures LLC, of Princeton, N.J.; Advent Venture Partners LLP, of the UK; Merrill Lynch Ventures, of New York; MDS Capital, of Toronto; and Prolog Ventures, of St. Louis.

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