BioWorld International Correspondent

LONDON - Vectura Ltd. announced positive Phase IIa results for AD 237, a treatment for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, paving the way for a proposed flotation on the Alternative Investment Market in London to raise £15 million to £20 million (US$36.4 million).

Vectura CEO Chris Blackwell told BioWorld International, "We will be releasing data on other products over the next few weeks, and given the stage they have reached, are looking for a major refinancing."

Blackwell wouldn't comment on the timing of an IPO, but said, "The market is continually improving, and not withstanding the queue [of other companies on file] we are confident of our identity and what we have got to offer."

AD 237 contains an anti-muscarinic drug that is approved for a non-respiratory indication, formulated using Vectura's PowderHale technology to improve the efficiency of pulmonary delivery. The product is being developed jointly with Arakis Ltd., of Cambridge, UK.

In the Phase IIa trial involving 45 diagnosed chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) patients there were clinically significant increases in lung-capacity measurements over placebo, with a clear dose response and excellent tolerability at all doses. The drug is formulated for once-daily dosing.

Arakis and Vectura now are planning a Phase IIb study in the U.S. and Europe, which Blackwell said is due to start in the second half of 2004. That will take 12 months, and the partners (who have 50/50 ownership of AD 237) intend to license at that point.

The second product in Chippenham-based Vectura's pipeline is VR 004, an inhaled treatment for erectile dysfunction. It also is about to enter Phase IIb trials. The active ingredient is approved as a sublingual formulation for the treatment of ED, and in the Phase IIa trial VR004 was equally effective but with faster onset of action and a better side effect profile than the sublingual product. The trial also demonstrated the ability of Vectura's powder formulation technology to deliver systemically active drugs through the lungs.

Vectura's other products in clinical development are VR496 for cystic fibrosis and COPD, and VR776 for premature ejaculation. The company also does contract development, applying its particle delivery technology to drugs in which there are advantages of pulmonary administration, such as rapid onset, improved efficacy or tolerability.

Vectura was set up in 1997, raising £1.75 million in its first round in 1999, and £10.6 million in a second round in April 2001.