Washington Editor

Advanced Viral Research Corp. secured $12 million in financing through the sale of common stock to two individuals.

Located in Yonkers, N.Y., the firm entered an agreement with James Dicke II and his son, James Dicke III, calling for Advanced Viral to sell an aggregate of 120 million shares of common stock at 10 cents per share for an aggregate price of $12 million, plus warrants to purchase 15 million shares of common stock at 20 cents each. James Dicke II is chairman and CEO of Crown Equipment Corp. and a former member of Advanced Viral's board.

The company's stock (OTC BB:ADVR) fell 21.6 percent Wednesday, or about 4 cents, to close at 16 cents.

The Dickes will pay the funds in four equal stages of $3 million each, once every 90 days, with the first $3 million payment today, Eli Wilner, Advanced Viral chairman and acting CEO, told BioWorld Today. With the $12 million commitment, the company has enough money for a year or more.

"And this company has never had a year's financing under its belt," Wilner said. "For us, this is a tremendous milestone. But how long it will last depends on clinical trial development."

The firm now has $12.5 million in cash (including the financing) and 660 million outstanding shares.

Founded in 1984, Advanced Viral is focused on getting a compound called AVR118, a peptide-nucleic acid, to market for any number of uses including cachexia (body wasting) in patients with AIDS, as well as investigating the drug in genital warts.

AVR118, an immunomodulator formerly known as Product R, is a variant of an antiviral called Reticulose sold in the 1950s by Key Pharmaceuticals. The product has never shown toxicity in humans, Wilner said, adding that the original developer of the drug probably didn't realize its potential.

Advanced Viral owns exclusive rights to the compound, and if all goes well, Wilner believes the firm is three to four years away from market in the U.S.

"Our goal is to get one drug on the market and not get distracted by acquisitions or trying to join up with other compounds," he said. "We have one - we hope - important drug to bring forward."

At the moment, Advanced Viral is conducting a Phase I/II trial in Israel for the reversal of cachexia. Along with that, the company is looking at other endpoints, since it has found evidence that AVR118 significantly reduces side effects of the AIDS cocktail, Wilner said.

Meanwhile, this year the company is looking to begin a Phase II topical treatment trial in the U.S. for genital warts. Also, Advanced Viral hopes to file a systemic investigational new drug application in the U.S. this year.

If the trials produce positive data, it expects to look for a partner to take AVR118 forward.

Advanced Viral has 10 employees and is negotiating with a candidate from the pharmaceutical industry to serve as its new CEO. Wilner will remain as chairman.