Cellular Genomics Inc. padded its Series C financing with an additional $12.6 million, closing the oversubscribed round at $34.9 million.
The Branford, Conn.-based company, which has raised about $62 million to date, plans to use the funds to advance its late-stage preclinical programs into human studies next year.
"I think the private capital market is quite product focused, and since our overall strategic plan is product focused, I believe that clearly contributed to the successful close of our financing," Cellular Genomics President and CEO Louis Matis told BioWorld Today. "If a company has a combination of unique technologies, promising drug discovery programs with large clinical potential and a strong management team, it can attract investors who will recognize those unique attributes."
The company integrates chemistry and biology in its drug discovery efforts, coupling its Analogue Sensitive Kinase Allele (ASKA) chemical genetics platform with its High-Throughput Accelerated Lead Optimization (HALO) technology. Cellular Genomics uses its ASKA technology to discover and develop kinase and other signal transduction inhibitors, which allow it to determine the therapeutic index of inhibiting a particular kinase in vivo and to define target-based side effects of such inhibition. The company generates chemical libraries through HALO for its small-molecule discovery process.
"We have developed internal drug discovery capabilities that have led to three very promising drug discovery programs," Matis said. "And the resources from this financing will allow us to drive those programs into the clinic and achieve key clinical proof of concept."
He added that the third-round funding would last through 2006.
The company's primary programs, which are focused on cancer, angiogenesis and autoimmune/inflammatory diseases, will advance via further internal development and in concert with future partners. Its lead cancer angiogenesis compound is a multitargeted kinase inhibitor, while its lead autoimmune/inflammatory compound inhibits Bruton's tyrosine kinase (Btk). The target plays a role in rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, vasculitis and asthma.
"We are advancing these drug discovery programs through preclinical development toward IND," Matis said. "And with this financing, our focus will be to build development capabilities that will allow us to advance the programs into the clinic."
Such promise drew three new investors to Cellular Genomics - CDP Capital in Montreal, RiverVest Venture Partners in St. Louis, and Toucan Capital Corp. in Bethesda, Md. Existing investors that contributed to the follow-on financing included Coastview Capital, of Los Angeles, and Connecticut Innovations Inc., of Hartford, Conn.
Concurrent with the latest investment, Coastview's Gordon Binder joined Cellular Genomics' board. Binder, the fund's founder and managing director, is a former CEO of Amgen Inc., of Thousand Oaks, Calif.
Five months ago, Cellular Genomics raised $22.3 million in the initial tranche of the financing round. (See BioWorld Today, Jan. 22, 2004.)
"Our strategy is to devote, in a highly focused way, our resources to advancing our drug discovery programs into the clinic," Matis said.