LONDON ¿ The bioinformatics company Inpharmatica raised #31.25 million (US$44 million) in its second funding round, enabling it to set up laboratory facilities to take compounds it has discovered into preclinical development.

Investors in the round, which was oversubscribed, include Dresdner Kleinwort Capital, Abingworth Management, Advent Venture Partners, Gilder Investment, Vertex Management, 3i Group plc, UnibioLtd. and GIMV. Genentech Inc., a licensee of Inpharmatica¿s Biopendium software, also made an investment.

Edith Cookson, business development director, told BioWorld International, ¿It is a huge amount of money and we¿re very pleased with it.¿ The cash is expected to last about three years at a burn rate of #500,000 per month, and the company expects to go public within the next two to three years.

Inpharmatica already has leased laboratory facilities and will now begin recruitment to find 20 staff members by the end of 2001. The company has filed for 70 patents on novel members of classical pharmaceutical classes, and Cookson said these would now be going forward to preclinical development. ¿We hope to have a hefty portfolio of compounds but we won¿t take them past the preclinical stage ourselves.¿

The company raised #1 million when it was spun out of University College London in 1998 to commercialize modeling techniques developed by Janet Thornton, the chief scientific officer. These techniques make it possible to take a gene sequence, predict the 3-dimensional structure of the protein for which it codes, and determine the probable function of the protein. In its first funding round, in March 1999, Inpharmatica raised #3 million.

Inpharmatica also will focus on drug rescue, finding new indications for drugs that are going off patent, using its second product, Chematica, a database for matching small molecules to protein-binding sites. This will enable the company to find new disease associations for existing drugs.

In addition to Genentech, Pfizer Inc. is the other subscriber to the Biopendium database. Cookson said Inpharmatica is talking to all the major pharmaceutical companies and expects to sign two more deals before the end of the year.

¿The funding will enable us to continue to develop Biopendium and add new modules,¿ she said. ¿And of course the scale will increase in volume with the increase in the volume of sequence data.¿

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