BioWorld International Correspondent

Danish drug discovery firm Nuevolution A/S raised $15 million in the first closing of its Series B financing round, but is looking to land up to $12 million more under the same terms by the first quarter of next year.

"That should take us - with the deal flow we've planned - through to profitability in 2006," CEO Zahed Subhan told BioWorld International.

The Copenhagen-based company appointed Fortis N.V., of Rotterdam, the Netherlands, as placement agent and Subhan said the agent would "market the transaction globally." The closed leg of the funding round was an exclusively Scandinavian affair: Scandinavian Life Science Venture led the transaction, SEB Företagsinvest also joined as a new investor and existing investors Novo A/S, Nordic Biotech K/S and the Danish Investment Fund also participated.

The company, which has now raised $24 million since its formation in May 2001, will use the cash to continue developing its Chemetics technology, which is designed to increase by several orders of magnitude the numbers of new chemical entities that can be synthesized and screened against targets of interest.

The platform combines DNA-directed synthesis of ultra-large compound libraries with high-throughput screening in a 1-ml test tube. Privileged drug fragments and scaffolds are bound to different 20-residue oligonucleotide linkers and then incubated with larger DNA templates of varying sequences. Complementary binding between the oligonucleotides and the templates brings differing fragments and molecular building blocks in close proximity, allowing chemical reactions to occur between some of them. The resulting complexes can be screened against a target of interest by affinity chromatography. They can then be amplified through iterative rounds of PCR amplification, followed by DNA-directed chemical synthesis.

At present, Subhan said, Nuevolution has built a Chemetics-based library containing 104 compounds, which is below industry leading libraries of around 106. Twelve months from now, though, it aims to be up to 108 molecules, and, eventually, 10 14.

"That's almost a grunt chemistry effort," he said. The main technical challenge is in devising the protocols to ensure that the overall process works.

The company aims both to perform fee-for-service assignments and to enter collaborative agreements with pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical firms. It is not planning to commence major commercial activities for about a year.

"I've been in this game long enough to know there's no point in peddling your wares until you've got something worth selling," Subhan said. Nevertheless, it already is close to signing a $10 million deal with a Nasdaq-quoted biotechnology firm, he said. That would involve generating leads against 20 targets.