BioWorld International Correspondent

LONDON — Drug delivery specialist Strakan Group Ltd. raised £15 million (US$21.6 million) in a rights issue to add to the £30.5 million it raised from institutional investors in May 2001.

At the same time Strakan, based in Galashiels, Scotland, said it received UK marketing approval for its lead product, Zindaclin, a once-a-day acne treatment (clindamycin and zinc complex) that uses Strakan’s ResiDerm topical drug delivery technology to provide a sustained-release effect.

The company also announced a research collaboration with AstraZeneca plc, of London. No details were disclosed, but the deal will involve joint research into the application of one of Strakan’s proprietary platform technologies to one of AstraZeneca’s compounds.

The £15 million rights issue was taken up by two of Strakan’s existing institutional shareholders, Warburg Pincus and LMS Capital, along with non-institutional shareholders and employees. The £30.5 million funding of May 2001 came from Warburg Pincus and LMS Capital, along with 3i plc. Strakan has raised £68 million since it was founded in 1995 by CEO Harry Stratford, co-founder and former chief executive of Shire Pharmaceuticals plc, and John Kanis, professor of metabolic bone diseases at the University of Sheffield.

Strakan said the fund raising would enable it to expand its sales force. “Achieving our development milestones and product launches, as well as collaborations with big pharma and a continuing expansion of the sales operation, are all set to be prominent features of the Strakan landscape in 2002.”

In its internal discovery and development program Strakan specializes in therapies for common skin and bone disorders. It has four platform technologies: ResiDerm for enhancing dermal penetration and retention of topically applied drugs; topical nitric oxide, an antimicrobial agent in Phase I trials, which acts against a range of viruses, bacteria and fungi associated with skin infections; MatriDerm, adhesives that combine drug-holding and -releasing properties with good adhesion to the skin; and Drug-conjugates, a novel approach to enhancing the absorption, efficacy and tolerability of oral drugs.

Zindaclin is the first product Strakan has taken from research to market, but the company also has marketing rights to other products and already has established a sales operation.