Pharmacore AB, an early stage drug development firm based in Uppsala, Sweden, raised SEK45 million (US$4.5 million) in first-round funding from Swedish investors InnovationsKapital, Swedestart and A+ Science Invest.

The new cash will enable the company to establish its own labs, continue its discovery programs and recruit additional senior management, it said.

¿That¿s on the top of my agenda now ¿ to find a new CEO for early next year,¿ Chairman Tomas Hammargren told BioWorld International.

Pharmacore was established in 1999 by scientific founders Anders Hallberg of Uppsala University and Lars Fdndriks of Gothenburg University on research dating back to the mid-1990s. Its therapeutic focus is based around the modulation of the AT2 receptor of the renin-angiotensin system, which is responsible for vascular homeostasis. It has based its chemistry efforts in Gothenburg, and has filed its first two patent applications on new chemical entities that act on AT2, Hammargren said.

The company already has a strong patent position on the use of AT2 receptor agonists, said Hammargren, who formerly was president and CEO of Biora AB, of Malmv, Sweden. The AT2 receptor, Hammargren said, has received less attention than the AT1 receptor, which is a common pharmaceutical target. But there is increasing scientific evidence, he said, that effects that previously were considered AT1 antagonistic activities may in fact be the result of stimulation of AT2.

Pharmacore has programs in multiple organ failure, gastrointestinal disease, hypertension and cardiac failure. At this point, Pharmacore¿s multiple organ failure program is the lead. ¿If this goes well we can start early clinical work in early 2003,¿ Hammargren said.