BioWorld International Correspondent

LONDON - Ardana Bioscience Ltd., which focuses on reproductive health, raised £2 million (US$2.87 million) in follow-on funding from UK Medical Ventures Fund. This brings to £3.1 million the amount the company has raised since it was formed in July 2000 to commercialize research carried out at the UK Medical Research Council's Human Reproductive Sciences Unit.

Mark Keatley, the company's chief financial officer, told BioWorld International the money would allow Ardana to accelerate development of its lead projects.

"In the past two months we have done an in-depth survey of the research, looking for commercially viable projects that will lead to therapeutics," he said. "We expect to accelerate work on the most promising, leading to a further round of funding in the next few months."

Ardana has exclusive rights over five years to research carried out at the unit in Edinburgh, which employs 100 and receives public funding of £3.8 million per annum. The Medical Research Council previously spun out companies based on patent families, but this is the first company to have been given carte blanche access to all work in a research unit.

The lead projects include novel contraceptives, including male contraceptives, a peptide that has a role in cervical opening for the induction of labor, treatments for menstrual disorders, and anti-infectives derived from amniotic fluid and semen.

"We have selected the best three to four out of 12 to 15 projects, all of which have the potential to go all the way," said Keatley.

Keatley said the issue of Ardana's commercialization strategy would be addressed when it embarked on the next funding round. He declined to say how much money the company will aim to raise.

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