BioWorld International Correspondent

LONDON - Ardana Ltd. snapped up a further £9 million (US$16.1 million) in an extension to its Series B funding, bringing the total for the round to £29 million and pushing the amount raised by the company since its formation in 2000 to £43.5 million.

"Our business model is validated, and people wanted a piece while we are still a small company," CEO Simon Best told BioWorld International. "We weren't planning to extend the round but decided, because there was lots of interest in the company when we raised the initial £20 million and subsequently, that we should top it up. There are lots of opportunities and other products we are trying to bring in to leverage the sales force, and this gives us extra flexibility."

The company aims to become profitable and cash positive no later than 2007.

The extension was supported by existing investors Techno Venture Management, MVM International Life Sciences Fund, ABN AMRO BV, 3i plc, Merlin Biosciences Ltd., Scottish Widows Investment Partnership, ISIS Equity Partners, Green Highlander LLC and Saffron Hill Ventures. New investors were DVC Deutsche Venture Capital, Albany Venture Managers Ltd. and 3i Bioscience Investment Trust.

Best said the extra funding would enable Edinburgh-based Ardana to pursue a number of in-licensing opportunities it has identified and to progress its in-house preclinical program, which is based on research carried out by the UK Medical Research Council's Human Reproductive Sciences Unit. Ardana has exclusive rights to exploit research from the unit.

Meanwhile, the UK launch of Ardana's first product, Striant, is imminent, with the marketing authorization complete and the sales force already on the road. Striant, a testosterone-replacement therapy for male hypogonadism, is being manufactured by a contractor in Italy. Best said Ardana is waiting for the first supplies of the product to arrive. Ardana acquired European rights to Striant, a buccal product, from Columbia Laboratories Inc., of Livingston, N.J., in October 2002 through an $8 million deal. Launches in other European countries are planned for next year.

Ardana in April acquired full rights to Teverelix, a gonadotrophin-releasing hormone (GnRH) antagonist, which is in Phase IIa trials in prostate cancer and Phase I in endometriosis. It also is developing chronodyne for the treatment of endometriosis-related infertility in collaboration with Columbia Laboratories, and has Leuprorelin, a GnRH analogue, in Phase II trials for the treatment of prostate cancer.