BioWorld International Correspondent

Arpida Ltd. raised CHF51.3 million (US$39.4 million) in a Series C funding round, bringing its total funding to date to CHF105 million.

The Muenchenstein, Switzerland-based firm plans to move its lead drug, Iclaprim, into the first of two pivotal Phase III trials in complicated skin and soft-tissue infections before the year-end. It reported positive Phase II data last December. (See BioWorld International, Dec. 17, 2003.)

The financing round included Swissfirst Bank, Temasek Holdings, Carnegie Fund, CDIB Bioscience Ventures I, CITA, MVI Finance and Schroder ISF Swiss Small & Mid Cap Equity Fund. Existing shareholders Alta Berkeley, Aventic, BioMedinvest, CDC IXIS Innovation, HBM BioVentures, HealthCap, 3i and Partners Group also participated.

The fund raising yielded more than Arpida initially had aimed for, and now it has sufficient cash to support its activities beyond the next 18 to 24 months, Chief Financial Officer Harry Welten told BioWorld International.

"Given our history of modest spending, we are truly financed to sustain even longer periods of drought," he said.

The company is mulling its options for Iclaprim, a diaminopyrimidine that disrupts bacterial DNA synthesis by inhibiting the activity of the prokaryotic form of dihydrofolate reductase.

"We have offers on the table," Welten said. But also it could seek additional finances to continue the clinical development program on a solo basis. The upcoming pivotal trials, which would involve around 1,200 patients, will require between $20 million and $30 million, in addition to the cash consumed by Arpida's ongoing activities, Welten said.

"It's really up in the air," he said. "We're going to see in the next six to 12 months." He added that he preferred not to speculate about an initial public offering at this point.

The company is aiming to launch Iclaprim in 2007 and anticipates significant sales based solely on the current indication.

"Any way you cut the numbers - top-down or bottom-up - we feel confident to say this is a product with the potential to reach peak sales north of $500 million," Welten said.

Next up in Arpida's pipeline is AR-709, for severe respiratory tract and inner-ear infections. That is due to enter the clinic next year. An additional 12 projects are at earlier stages of preclinical development.