BioWorld International Correspondent

LONDON AM-Pharma BV raised EUR2.2 million (US$1.9 million) in its second financing round to fund the company over the next 18 months and enable it to take its two lead anti-infective compounds through Phase I trials.

Paul Leufkens, vice president, business development, told BioWorld International, “This is very important because it is the first venture-backed financing round. It is the start of really significant funding to take our compounds forward.”

The financing round was led by ABN-Amro Capital, and was backed by existing investors, including BioPartner Start-up Ventures and private investors.

AM-Pharma was spun out of the Free University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands, in July 2000 to develop novel peptides of human origin as anti-infectives. The company, based in Bilthoven, the Netherlands, raised EUR640,000 in its first funding round.

AM-Pharma is developing histatin-derived peptides, isolated from human saliva, to treat infection in orthopedic applications and lactoferrin-derived peptides from human milk for the treatment of systemic infection, including infections that are resistant to existing antibiotics. The two lead compounds are treatments for hepatitis C and osteomyelitis.

The lactoferrin-based peptides were licensed from Pharming Group NV, of Leiden, the Netherlands, which is seeking to refinance itself after running out of cash and filing for legal moratorium in August 2001. Pharming, a specialist in the production of human proteins in the milk of transgenic animals, was a shareholder in AM-Pharma. However, Leufkens said AM-Pharma has now acquired full rights to the lactoferrin technology and Pharming’s shares in AM-Pharma have been redistributed.

AM-Pharma expects to start its next funding round later this year, for what Leufkens said will be “a big amount of money.” He added, “There is no lack of interest in our technology. This current round only took five months, which is good given current market conditions.”

The company’s intention is to look for partners at Phase II. However, Leufkens said there are discussions ongoing with a number of potential partners. AM-Pharma also is looking for additional compounds to license in.