By Karen Young

Advancis Pharmaceutical Corp. raised $15 million in a Series D round of financing, which it will use to move Phase I trials forward and get four more drug candidates into clinical trials.

To date, the Gaithersburg, Md.-based company, founded in December 1999, has raised $25.5 million, said Edward Rudnic, founder and CEO of privately held Advancis.

¿It is a difficult environment, but we are a product company with a prospect of some near-term revenue,¿ Rudnic said.

The company should have enough cash to sustain its efforts through the next 20 months, he said. Rudnic said the valuation of the company ¿post-money¿ is $42 million.

Advancis, which changed its name from Advanced Pharma in September, is in negotiations with large pharmaceutical companies, as well as mid-tier pharmaceutical companies, with the idea of generating milestone payments.

¿We¿re fairly confident that we will achieve a couple of these deals by mid-2002,¿ Rudnic said.

Advancis¿ focus is on antibacterial and antiviral agents. Its absorption technology is based on a drug delivery system, which tests have demonstrated extended anti-infective therapeutic activity and the delivery of anti-infective agents more efficiently. The drug delivery system is a tablet dosage form, which is released in a pulsatile manner following ingestion. Rudnic said Advancis¿ technology may dramatically reduce the days dosing is required, as well as the frequency per day. In one case, only one dose may be needed for an entire treatment regimen.

The company currently has three Phase I clinical trials for three antibiotics: clarithromycin, amoxicillin and metronidazole. Two of those trials, with clarithromycin for respiratory tract infections and metronidazole, should be complete by year¿s end. Metronidazole is being tested for ob/gyn uses. The third Phase I trial, with amoxicillin, is scheduled for completion by the second quarter of 2002. Among the possible uses for the drugs are chronic bronchitis, community-acquired pneumonia and sinusitis.

Rudnic said he hopes to push these antibiotics into Phase II and III trials with the new funding.

Advancis also has seven preclinical product candidates being studied in animal models for indications, including post-surgery abdominal infection, diabetic foot ulcers and, potentially, skin and skin structure infections.

¿By the end of this year, we will select at least four to go into human clinical trials by mid-year next year,¿ Rudnic said.

The financing round was led by HealthCare Ventures, of Princeton, N.J. Other investors were Rho Ventures, of New York; Johnson & Johnson Development Corp., of New Brunswick, N.J.; and Alexandria Real Estate Equities, of Pasadena, Calif. Some partners and affiliates of HealthCare Ventures, including Middlegate Securities, of New York, joined the round as first-time investors in Advancis.