BioWorld International Correspondent

Italian firm BioXell SpA added €17 million to its coffers in a second funding round it closed several months ahead of its original plan.

The Milan-based company attracted an offer from Dutch investor NIB Capital Private Equity NV, of Amsterdam, the Netherlands, in advance of completing a Phase II trial of its lead compound, BXL-628, a vitamin D3 analogue in development for benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). (See BioWorld International, April 2, 2003.)

"Obviously, we felt it was an opportunity to expand the business," CEO Francesco Sinigaglia told BioWorld International. NIB invested in BioXell, he said, because BioXell's two platforms, a library of vitamin D3 analogues and a program based around TREM receptors that play a role as mediators of inflammation, have multiple therapeutic applications. Investimenti Piccole Imprese, also of Milan, participated in the transaction, while BioXell's first-round investors MPM Capital, Index Ventures and Life Sciences Partners, all followed their money as well.

The company now has raised a total of €39.7 million since it was spun out from the Milan research unit of Basel, Switzerland-based F. Hoffmann-La Roche Ltd. at the beginning of last year. It is funded for the next three years, Sinigaglia said. The funds will enable BioXell to proceed with its clinical development schedule, he said, by adding programs in chronic organ transplant rejection and in Type I diabetes to the existing BPH program. (See BioWorld International, April 3, 2002.)

"In the course of next year, we will have three clinical studies ongoing," he said.

It has no plans to expand its existing internal preclinical programs but it is looking for potential in-licensing deals, particularly in the field of urology therapeutics.

"We are currently reviewing a couple of opportunities, but we haven't finalized anything yet," Sinigaglia said.