BioWorld International Correspondent

BioImage A/S attracted a mix of local and international investors to its second-round financing, which yielded EUR 15.2 million (US$13.2 million).

Abingworth Management Ltd., of London, and funds advised by Apax Partners led the transaction. Danish investor Novo A/S also participated.

Interest in the offering was very high, said BioImage’s chief operating officer, Ulrik Vejlsgaard. “We could have taken in more cash but chose not to,” he told BioWorld International. The company “deliberately targeted the international venture capital environment,” he said, in order to tap into investors with broad international experience.

Getting Abingworth on board was particularly significant, he said, as the same organization previously backed Aurora Biosciences, which, like BioImage, is developing green fluorescent protein (GFP) technology. Aurora was acquired last year by Vertex Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Cambridge, Mass., in a stock-based deal valued at US$592 million.

Copenhagen, Denmark-based BioImage, which was spun out of Novo Nordisk A/S, of Bagsvaerd, in 1999 has now raised a total of DKK 218 million (US$25.5 million) and has enough cash for the next three years, Vejlsgaard said. The company has developed a whole-cell screening system that tracks intracellular protein translocation processes in real time using a proprietary form of the GFP as a marker.

It aims to use this platform to identify lead compounds that modulate protein translocation processes that are in turn linked to important signal cascades. It already has licensed the technology to Amersham Pharmacia Biotech Inc., of Piscataway, N.J. Earlier this month, it disclosed a drug discovery alliance with Lexicon Genetics Inc., of The Woodlands, Texas, which is closer to its favored model of “deep collaborations.”

Lexicon is supplying validated targets, compound libraries and medicinal chemistry expertise. BioImage will use its platform to screen for compounds that have novel modes of action on the chosen targets. “We estimate that we will have the first one in a little more than a year,” Vejlsgaard said.

The company plans to enter a small number of additional collaborations this year. It also has initiated eight internal drug discovery programs.

“Our own projects are based on known but difficult targets,” Vejlsgaard said.