LONDON ¿ The venture capital group Abingworth Management Ltd. announced the final closing of its new life science fund at US$225 million, significantly in excess of the original target of $150 million.

Stephen Bunting, managing director of the London-based fund, told BioWorld International, ¿It took longer than expected but in the end we had a lot of support and interest. Despite the difficult fund-raising environment in 2001, we have been able to raise a substantially larger fund than we set out to achieve.¿

The fund will be invested in up to 25 companies and Bunting said he expects it to be fully committed within the next two-and-a-half years. Since the first closing in April 2001, the fund has backed nine early stage companies, including Astex Technology Ltd. and Solexa Ltd., both of Cambridge, UK; Inpharmatica Ltd., of London; Chroma Therapeutics Ltd., of Oxford, UK; ParAllele Genomics, of San Francisco; and Guava Technologies Inc., of Burlingame, Calif.

Bunting said he is confident there are plenty of quality start-ups in which to invest. ¿Our deal flow over the past nine months to a year is probably the best it has ever been,¿ he said. ¿We are very happy with the quality of the technology, coupled with the people.¿