Three private placements are supporting a trio of companies' product development needs.

Sonus Pharmaceuticals Inc. raised funds through a straight stock sale, while BioSante Pharmaceuticals Inc. and Alfacell Corp. sold stock and warrants in their transactions.

Late Tuesday, Sonus said it generated $15.2 million in gross proceeds through its placement of 2.9 million common shares at $5.25 apiece with a group of institutional investors. The per-share price reflected a 5.6 percent discount to that day's closing bid of $5.56.

On Wednesday, Sonus' shares (NASDAQ:SNUS) dropped 13 cents to close at $5.43.

"It was an opportunistic financing that came to us," Pamela Dull, Sonus' director of investor relations, told BioWorld Today. "It really enhances our ability and gives us greater flexibility to take the next step with the clinical and regulatory development of Tocosol Paclitaxel, with a goal of submitting that new drug application in late 2005 or early 2006."

The Bothell, Wash.-based company netted about $14.4 million through the transaction, which it plans to use to advance Tocosol Paclitaxel, as well as to accelerate preclinical development of other oncology candidates.

Tocosol Paclitaxel is in Phase IIa trials for non-small-cell lung, ovarian and bladder cancers, though all three studies have completed enrollment. Dull said the company would present updated data from the studies on time to disease progression and survival at next month's American Society of Clinical Oncology meeting in New Orleans.

"For the next step, we're hopeful of gaining agreement with the FDA on the protocol for a confirmatory Phase III efficacy study, which we would plan to initiate by year-end," Dull added.

Sonus also plans to turn more attention to its earlier-stage programs, including Tocosol-enhanced products that employ camptothecin derivatives. The program, which is moving from discovery-phase research into preclinical work, produced one formulation that has shown increased antitumor activity in animal tumor models, compared to an approved camptothecin analogue. Those data were reported at last month's American Association for Cancer Research meeting in Orlando, Fla.

Another discovery-stage program is focused on improving platinum-based compounds with the Tocosol technology. Dull said the company also would explore opportunities to in-license or acquire additional products to grow its pipeline.

Sonus had about $16.9 million in cash and marketable securities as of March 31, as well as about 18 million shares outstanding. It posted a $3.6 million net loss in the preceding three-month period.

San Diego-based Granite Financial Group Inc. is acting as the financing's placement agent.

Financing Nearly Triples BioSante's Cash Reserves

BioSante raised $17.7 million in gross proceeds after entering definitive agreements with institutional and other accredited investors for a stock-and-warrant sale.

The Lincolnshire, Ill.-based company agreed to place about 2.9 million shares at $6 apiece, an 8.3 percent discount to Tuesday's closing price of $6.54. The stock (AMEX:BPA) on Wednesday gained 14 cents to close at $6.68. Investors also received warrants to purchase 442,350 additional shares at an exercise price of $7 each.

Net proceeds totaled about $16.5 million for BioSante, which said the added funding gives it about $25 million in the bank, enough to sustain it for more than two years.

It had about $9.1 million in cash reserves as of Dec. 31, as well as about 12 million shares outstanding. It posted a $6 million net loss in 2003.

The company said it intends to use its most recent proceeds to fund late-stage development of Bio-E-Gel, currently in a pivotal Phase III trial to treat menopausal symptoms, and LibiGel, soon to complete a Phase II trial for female sexual dysfunction, as well as for general corporate purposes.

BioSante also is developing its calcium phosphate nanotechnology for vaccines, including biodefense vaccines for toxins such as anthrax and ricin, and drug delivery systems.

Boston-based Leerink Swann & Co. is serving as the transaction's placement agent.

Placement Proves Pivotal For Alfacell's Operations

Alfacell pulled itself from the bottom of its cash reserves after raising $10 million through a stock-and-warrant agreement with an existing institutional investor.

The company's cash resources totaled about $1.8 million as of Jan. 31, and it recorded a $1.2 million net loss in the three months prior to that.

The undisclosed shareholder purchased about 1.2 million shares at $8.26 apiece, a 4.3 percent discount to Tuesday's closing bid of $8.63, and five-year warrants to purchase about 1.2 million additional shares at an exercise price of $12.39 each. The company's stock (OTC BB:ACEL) on Wednesday gained 24 cents to close at $8.87. It has about 29 million shares outstanding.

Bloomfield, N.J.-based Alfacell said it would use its latest proceeds to obtain marketing registrations of Onconase for malignant mesothelioma in the U.S. and Europe, and for general corporate purposes. The product is in a Phase III trial in that indication, being evaluated in combination with doxorubicin vs. doxorubicin alone.

Alfacell paid a 5 percent placement fee to an agent as part of the transaction.