By Karen Young

GenVec Inc. raised $13 million through a private placement of about 3.6 million shares to funds managed by HealthCare Ventures.

GenVec sold the shares at about $3.63 each. As of Sept. 30, GenVec had 18,085,857 shares of common stock outstanding. At that time, GenVec held $33.8 million in cash and investments, which the company expected to take it through early 2003, according to a 10-K filing.

GenVec, of Gaithersburg, Md., focuses on technology that incorporates genes into modified adenoviruses and injects them with catheters and syringes. HealthCare Ventures is based in Princeton, N.J.

The proceeds will be used to further GenVec¿s clinical development programs for TNFerade, which is used with radiation therapy against cancer. TNFerade delivers the human tumor necrosis factor-alpha gene directly to tumors, using GenVec¿s adenovector gene delivery technology. Once inside the tumor, standard radiation therapy triggers a switch known as the EGR-1 promoter, initiating the localized production of the therapeutic anticancer protein, TNF-alpha.

GenVec presented the first clinical trial data for TNFerade, its lead oncology product candidate, at the American Society of Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology meeting in San Francisco in November. In the study, two of seven patients showed a complete response, two more showed a partial response and three demonstrated stable disease. In a Phase Ib trial, patients now are being treated with TNFerade targeting a form of cancer known as soft tissue sarcoma.

The money also will be used to advance AdPEDF, or pigment epithelium-derived factor, which is being developed for treating certain kinds of blindness, particularly macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy. In May, GenVec reported data from PDEF studies indicating that administration with its delivery technology resulted in a substantial reduction in new blood vessel formation in animal models of macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy.

¿We are pleased with this new financial commitment and the expanded flexibility it provides our company to continue our current development programs and to explore the development of additional product candidates,¿ GenVec CEO Paul Fischer said in a prepared statement.

Its BioBypass angiogen is now in Phase II trials for the treatment of coronary artery disease and peripheral vascular disease. GenVec was in a collaboration with Warner-Lambert Co., now part of Pfizer Inc., of New York, for preclinical development of BioBypass, but that collaboration ended on July 1. Fischer said at the time that the end of the preclinical collaboration did not affect the overall collaboration, which makes Pfizer responsible for the clinical development, regulatory approval, manufacturing and commercialization of BioBypass worldwide, excluding Asia. As of September 2000, GenVec had received $53.7 million from Morris Plains, N.J.-based Warner-Lambert. (See BioWorld Today, Jan. 26, 2001.)

Other GenVec products include GenStent biologic, which is designed to block the narrowing of blood vessels from vascular damage caused by angioplasty and vascular grafts.

GenVec¿s stock (NASDAQ:GNVC) rose 38 cents Wednesday to close at $4.56.

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