BioWorld International Correspondent

MUNICH, Germany - Jerini AG, a drug discovery and development company based in Berlin, raised €31 million in its Series B round.

In one of the largest biotech rounds this year in Germany, the company acquired a new lead investor, HealthCap, of Stockholm, Sweden, while retaining previous investors TVM Techno Venture Management, of Munich, and 3i, of London, as co-leads.

"Investors were interested in our lead compound," Berndt Modig, Jerini's chief financial officer, told BioWorld International. "It has a relatively short development time to projected market entry, and the prospect of having a product enter the market relatively quickly was attractive."

The lead drug is Icatibant, a selective peptidomimetic bradykinin BK 2 receptor antagonist. Jerini's research focuses on two indications, resistant ascites in liver cirrhosis and angioedema. In December, the company reported positive results from a Phase IIa study in the first indication.

"We will be going into Phase III this summer with projected market entry in 2006 or 2007," Modig said, adding that the new funding allows Jerini to undertake the Phase III trial with its own resources.

The company built its pipeline from a discovery platform that it said enables massive parallel syntheses and screening of peptide leads, pharmacophore identification and transformation into peptidomimetic and small-molecule drugs. Its peptide lead to small-molecule conversion process is supported by medicinal chemistry and cheminformatics, and guided by matching the pharmacophore derived from massive peptide SAR data information against a virtual small-molecule library. The scaffolds it selects then are optimized using medicinal chemistry approaches.

"We see Jerini's future as a stand-alone discovery and development company," Modig said. "Eventually, we would like to be able to tap public equity markets for growth capital."

Existing investors that also participated in the financing were Sanders Morris Harris, of New York; the PolyTechnos Funds, of Munich; and IBB-Beteiligungsgesellschaft and bmp, both of Berlin. The round brings the total capital raised by Jerini to more than €55 million.