By Karen Young

Theratechnologies Inc. entered an agreement with a syndicate of underwriters to sell 2.5 million common shares of its stock at C$10.25 per share to raise C$26 million (US$16.3 million).

The syndicate, led by Yorkton Securities Inc. of Toronto, was granted an option to purchase an additional 382,000 common shares. The deal is expected to close Dec. 13.

¿We are raising the money for working capital purposes,¿ said Luc Tanguay, president and chief operating and financial officer for Montreal-based Theratechnologies. ¿We have five Phase II trials ongoing, and we are building our portfolio, so it also will be used for preclinical and research purposes.¿

Tanguay said the price per share was determined based on a ¿normal discount¿ to the trading price of its stock on the Toronto Stock Exchange. The stock (TSE:TH) fell C49 cents Tuesday to close at C$10.56.

Theratechnologies has a cash position of C$109 million if one includes its 62 percent ownership of Celmed Biosciences Inc., its cell therapy subsidiary created in June. Without Celmed, it has about C$77 million after the financing. Either way, the company has enough cash on hand to take it through the next four and a half years, Tanguay said.

The company¿s growth hormone-releasing factor analogue ThGRF is being studied in Phase II trials, two of which are for muscle wasting ¿ including immune dysfunction and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and another is for individuals who have suffered hip fractures and are in the postoperative healing process.

Another Phase II trial of ThGRF is under way in sleep maintenance insomnia involving seven clinical sites and 90 patients. Enrollment in two sites in Europe began in October.

In the U.S., the company received FDA approval last week to begin a Phase II safety study with patients with controlled Type II diabetes. The objective of the trial is to evaluate the safety of two doses of TH 9507 administered over 12 weeks by daily subcutaneous injections in about 45 patients with stable Type II diabetes. With this study, ThGRF is being studied for safety as it relates to older patients undergoing hip replacement surgeries who also have diabetes, Tanguay said.

¿We know that there is a high percentage of people with Type II diabetes,¿ said Patricia Lussier, communications director for Theratechnologies. ¿In order to be able to include these people in our studies, we want to know that it will not trigger insulin sensitivity.¿

The Phase II studies are scheduled for completion next year, most of which will be completed in the first three quarters, with the study on COPD slated to conclude in the fourth quarter, Tanguay said.

Lussier said the company is continuing its focus on therapeutic peptides. In addition to ThGRF, the company has more than five other peptides in preclinical studies.