BioWorld International Correspondent

LONDON - Alizyme plc raised £11.5 million (US$19.5 million) in a placing of 6.8 million shares, giving it financial headroom as it negotiates deals for its three Phase III products, and allowing it to expand the commercial potential of its anti-obesity drug, ATL-962, by funding an additional Phase II trial in Type II diabetes.

The new shares, representing 4.9 percent of the company's equity, were placed with institutional investors at £1.68, a discount of about 3.2 percent to the closing price Oct. 21.

Richard Palmer, CEO, told BioWorld International, "This liberates us from any concerns that might have arisen as we negotiate licensing deals."

Apart from ATL-962, Alizyme is seeking partners for Colal-Pred in inflammatory bowel disease and Renzapride in irritable bowel syndrome, all of which have clearance to enter Phase III.

The Cambridge-based company was not actively seeking to raise money, but investors offered Alizyme the comfort factor of further funding during a series of road show meetings two weeks ago.

"There was no intention to raise money, but the opportunity was there," Palmer said. "We opened the book on Tuesday morning [Oct. 21] and closed it on Tuesday night with 80 percent over demand."

Alizyme has performed well on the London market this year, as its shares have risen from 37 pence in January to £1.72 last week, on the back of a stream of positive clinical data. The shares hit 65 pence in August when Alizyme announced a $42 million deal with Takeda Chemical Industries for Japanese rights to ATL-962, and went up to £1.14 when Phase IIb results of ATL-962 were released in September.

Having extra funds will allow Alizyme to expand the label of ATL-962, a lipase inhibitor, to include Type II diabetes. Palmer said the company is currently talking to its advisers about the scope of the Phase IIb trial. "Obviously having broader Phase II data allows you to get as much money as you can on the day of the launch, rather than expanding the label through a Phase IIIb trial, as has become the habit in the industry."

Alizyme now is talking to half of the top 15 pharmaceutical companies under confidentiality agreements, but Palmer said he does not expect to complete deals immediately.

"It takes time just to set up one meeting with a company, so it will be some time before we come to any judgment about the appetite [of potential licensees]," he said.