BioWorld International Correspondent

LONDON Trigen Ltd. raised £7.1 million (US$10 million) in its first funding round, enabling it to take TRI 50b, an anti-coagulant thrombin inhibitor, into Phase IIb trials. The funding was led by HealthCap, of Sweden.

Barry Knight, finance director, told BioWorld International, “Ten million dollars is what we set out to raise. There was plenty of interest, but decision making was slower than it would have been at the peak of the market.”

Trigen, based in London, was set up in 1992 to commercialize technology from the Thrombosis Research Institute in London, and has a formal agreement giving it rights in certain areas of research. Prior to this funding round all the money came from one of the founding investors, and Trigen operated as a virtual company.

“We had reached the stage where we needed to bring on board a specialized investor to help develop the company,” Knight said, “and we wanted an organization with an international flavor, because, of course, we need to reach international markets.” He said the size of the round reflects the relative maturity of Trigen. “We’re not a typical first-round company; we are much more mature, with well-defined programs and compounds in the clinic.”

Although most of the £7.1 million is earmarked for Phase II development of the thrombin inhibitor, Trigen also intends to expand its in-house discovery and development capabilities, where the focus is on inhibitors of the blood coagulation cascade, platelet activation and vessel wall inflammation. The company currently has two other programs in atheroma and thrombosis at the preclinical stage.

Trigen is developing an oral and an intravenous formulation of TRI 50b. The intravenous version has completed early Phase II studies, while the oral version is in Phase I. Evidence from the studies to date indicates that TRI 50b is potentially more effective than currently available anti-coagulants, with a wide therapeutic window and a low bleeding tendency.

The company is hopeful that the oral version of TRI 50b could be a competitor to warfarin, currently the only oral anti-coagulant available for the long-term treatment of thrombosis. Warfarin has several disadvantages, including a tendency to interact with other drugs, and a high degree of variability in its efficacy from one patient to another, and in the same patient over time. This means patients taking warfarin must be monitored.