Washington Editor

Archemix Corp. expects to use proceeds from a $50 million Series B financing to support its aptamer therapeutic program, which includes a candidate being developed for use in cardiac surgery.

The Series B, led by Highland Capital Partners Inc., of Lexington, Mass., brings the total amount raised by Archemix to $100 million since its 2001 inception. (See BioWorld Today, Aug. 14, 2002.)

Errol De Souza, president and CEO of Cambridge, Mass.-based Archemix, believes the firm has been successful in raising money because it has quickly transitioned from a technology firm to a development company. De Souza told BioWorld Today the company's lead candidate, ARC183, a thrombin inhibitor, is poised to enter the clinic during the third quarter. ARC183 will be evaluated for use in coronary artery bypass graft surgery (CABG), percutaneous coronary intervention and other acute anticoagulant applications.

ARC183 has a short half-life of about two minutes, an ideal time for CABG surgery, De Souza said, adding that the candidate would address an unmet medical need.

Archemix, a privately held firm, employs 63 people and has $60 million-plus in cash (including the Series B). De Souza expects the funds to last through 2006 or into early 2007.

Archemix was founded in May 2001 with funding of $8.25 million. Later that year, the company agreed to pay Gilead Sciences Inc., of Foster City, Calif., $17.5 million for licensing rights to the aptamer technology. (See BioWorld Today, Nov. 7, 2001.)

Aptamers are 3-dimensional nucleic acids that bind to molecular targets in a manner similar to antibodies, Archemix said, and could be applicable to drug discovery, target validation and affinity reagents. The company said aptamers could be developed to bind to a particular protein or disease-related target, thereby changing the activity of that protein and generating a therapeutic effect.

Beyond ARC183, De Souza said this year Archemix expects to select two additional products in its pipeline for development.

Meanwhile, the thrombin inhibitor snagged a partner back in January when Nuvelo Inc., of Sunnyvale, Calif., accepted a 50-50 collaboration centered on the candidate. On signing, Archemix received a $3 million up-front fee and is scheduled to receive a $10 million milestone when the candidate enters Phase II, De Souza said.

Around the same time, Archemix entered a funded target-validation collaboration with Johnson & Johnson Pharmaceutical Research & Development LLC, of Raritan, N.J., aimed at validating G protein-coupled receptor targets. Financial terms were not disclosed.

In conjunction with the financing, Archemix said Corey Mulloy, of Highland Capital Partners, will join the Archemix board.

Other participants in the Series B included Atlas Venture Ltd., of Waltham, Mass.; Prospect Venture Partners, of Palo Alto, Calif.; Schroder Ventures Life Sciences, of Boston; Rho Ventures, of New York; Care Capital LLC, of Princeton, N.J.; MDS Capital Corp., of Toronto; Posco BioVentures Ltd., of Carlsbad, Calif.; and U.S. Trust Private Equity, of San Francisco.