By Matthew Willett

Rejuvenon Corp. completed a $12 million financing with international institutional investors just over a year after its founding.

The Houston-based company focuses on the development and commercialization of therapeutics that prevent or treat the debilitating disorders of aging. Founded in March 2000, privately held Rejuvenon also announced a licensing agreement with Novo Nordisk A/S, of Bagsvaerd, Denmark, for a family of compounds shown to be effective in the stimulation of growth hormone secretion.

Novo A/S, of Copenhagen, a Novo Nordisk subsidiary, participated in the financing along with BankInvest, also of Copenhagen; Burrill & Co., of San Francisco; and Baylor College of Medicine, of Houston.

Rejuvenon¿s president and chief operating officer Margaret McCormick said Rejuvenon¿s strategy is to develop drugs that make older adults¿ physiologies more like those of younger adults.

¿The way we go about that, initially, is to focus on the growth hormone path,¿ McCormick told BioWorld Today. ¿To that end, we¿ve in-licensed hormones from Novo Nordisk that control the release of growth hormones, and with these compounds we can restore the growth hormone profile of younger adults. We¿ve seen clinical evidence of therapeutic benefit in terms of increased strength, conversion of fat into muscle mass, and help in boosting the immune system.¿

Because Rejuvenon¿s therapy more closely mimics the body¿s natural peaks in growth hormone production, she said, the therapy carries fewer side effects than bolus injection of growth hormone itself. Soon, she said, Rejuvenon will initiate a clinical program with a NovoNordisk compound.

¿Basically, what we¿ve used the money for is to help license compounds in from Novo,¿ she said. ¿These six compounds, plus a whole program that includes thousands of potential compounds, are all ready for preclinical testing, and we¿re going to take two and proceed with preclinical tox studies. We hope to be in Phase I studies in mid-2002.¿

The financing should last the privately held company through this phase of advancement, she said, and into Phase I testing. ¿At that point we¿ll be looking at the next round of financing,¿ McCormick said.

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