BORNHEIM, Germany ¿ Morphochem AG said it raised EUR15 million (US$13.1 million) in its fourth private financing round. The company plans to use the money to improve its chemical genomics platform and for further product development.

The funding increases Martinsried, Germany-based Morphochem¿s cash position to EUR48 million, Chief Financial Officer Thomas Loeser told BioWorld International, adding that there will be EUR1.6 million in additional revenues from an alliance with Aventis Pharma. The company also expects milestone fees and royalties from this alliance.

¿At a cash-burn rate of EUR1.8 million per month, the cash will last until the end of 2003,¿ he said.

Morphochem currently has two drug candidates in preclinical development. Factor Xa inhibitors for treatment of thrombo-embolic disorders are expected to enter clinical trials in the third quarter of 2002, said Wolfgang Schiebler, Morphochem¿s vice president, corporate development. Other drugs in preclinical development are related to inflammatory diseases.

Anti-infective candidates are expected to enter preclinical development soon, Schiebler said. The company aims at driving the drugs as far as possible into clinical trials.

Morphochem has developed these drugs using its proprietary technology, chemical genomics, a fast way to synthesize and optimize new small molecules and validate drug targets. (See BioWorld International, June 13, 2001.)

Morphochem plans to extend its search for partners for the chemical genomics technology.

The fourth financing round was led by Life Sciences Partners, of Amsterdam, the Netherlands, with an investment of EUR9 million. Most existing investors also participated, including Techno Venture Management, of Munich; Alta Berkeley, of London; Alta California Partners, of San Francisco; West LB, of D|sseldorf; Merlin Biosciences, of London; Nomura International plc, of London; and Viscardi AG, of Munich, as well as selected private investors.

The placement brings the company¿s total equity funding since its launch in 1998 to EUR77 million.

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