With plans to advance its five core drug candidates, Titan Pharmaceuticals Inc. raised about $15 million with a private placement of common stock.

The company sold 3 million of its shares to select institutional investors and an individual investor at $5 per share. The offering was made as part of the company's effective shelf registration statement, filed in February, which allowed the company to offer up to $50 million in stock.

"We're very pleased with the financing," said Robert Farrell, executive vice president and chief financial officer of South San Francisco-based Titan. "We have five core product development programs, all of which are in the clinic, and the proceeds will be used to advance those programs."

New York-based Rodman & Renshaw LLC is acting as placement agent for the offering.

In addition to covering research and product development activities, the company will use funds for general corporate purposes.

"We ended the year with $47.6 million, and this adds another $15 million to our coffers," Farrell told BioWorld Today. "The combination of the two gives us well in excess of two years cash now."

The five programs in which Titan focuses include Spheramine, which is in a Phase IIb study for the treatment of Parkinson's disease. Spheramine is partnered with Schering AG, of Berlin. It attaches microcarriers to retinal pigment epithelial cells, enabling their long-term survival and functionality. They enhance brain levels of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that is deficient in certain brain regions in Parkinson's patients.

Titan also is studying Pivanex, which is in Phase IIb work for the treatment of non-small-cell lung cancer. Pivanex inhibits enzymes called histone deacetylases.

Another product - gallium maltolate - is in a Phase I/II study. In the Phase I portion, the company is trying to determine a dose. "When we determine the appropriate dose, we'll commence the Phase II portion later this year," Farrell said.

Titan also is studying Probuphine in a Phase I/II study for opiate addiction. Probuphine uses Titan's long-term drug delivery system to provide therapeutic levels of buprenorphine.

Its fifth product, DITPA (3,5-diiodothyropropionic acid), will enter Phase II studies later this year in congestive heart failure. DITPA is an orally active analogue of thyroid hormone. It also is the subject of a separate Phase II study by the Veterans Administration.

Titan did have a late-stage clinical product: CeaVac, to treat metastatic colorectal cancer patients. The monoclonal antibody demonstrated a trend toward overall survival in a Phase III trial, but it failed to meet the primary endpoint. (See BioWorld Today, Dec. 12, 2002.)

The company now is developing CeaVac only in collaboration with groups funded by the National Cancer Institute, evaluating it in combination with TriAb, another of the company's monoclonal antibodies, for non-small-cell lung cancer and colorectal cancer. Any further development of CeaVac and TriAb will be pursued through third parties such as the NCI, the company has said.

Through a partnership with Novartis AG, of Basel, Switzerland, Titan is testing Iloperidone in a Phase III trial to treat schizophrenia and related psychotic disorders. Iloperidone acts by binding with serotonin and dopamine receptors in the brain, inhibiting the activity of serotonin and dopamine neurotransmitters. Novartis is funding the whole Phase III program, which has included more than 3,700 patients to date.

Titan's stock (AMEX:TTP) dropped 41 cents on Friday to close at $4.97.