To fund its march toward approval of gastrin 17 hormone-blocking cancer vaccine treatments, including ongoing trials and general operations, Aphton Corp. raised $14.25 in a private equity financing with several institutional investors, selling about 1.2 million shares of common stock at $12 per share, a discount of 15.6 percent to Friday¿s closing price of $14.21.

Miami-based Aphton has developed immunogens against gastrin 17, as well as hormones implicated in reproductive cancers. The idea is to train the body¿s immune system to make antibodies against the form of gastrin that can help the disease worsen.

Aphton has a pivotal Phase III trial in patients with advanced pancreatic cancer under way in the U.S. and in Europe, and other pivotal studies with its anti-gastrin vaccine for chemo-refractory patients with colorectal cancer, as well as for advanced stomach cancer.

Company officials could not be reached for comment.

At a scientific meeting in May, Aphton offered favorable interim results from a Phase II trial in patients with metastatic stomach cancer, results from trials with colorectal and pancreatic cancer patients and preclinical trials. Last year, Aphton raised more than $16 million in a private financing with several international biotechnology and health care funds to finance the pancreatic cancer trials. (See BioWorld Today, May 16, 2001, and April 13, 2000.)

Aphton¿s stock (NASDAQ:APHT) closed Monday at $13.75, down 46 cents. ¿ Randall Osborne