BORNHEIM, Germany - Noxxon AG raised EUR20M (US$17.1 million) in a second-round private equity financing.

"This money will turn Noxxon from start-up into step one of growing to a biopharmaceutical company," said Noxxon CFO Thomas Klein.

"Until now Noxxon has done mainly ice-breaking for its new technology," Klein told BioWorld International. Noxxon has developed Spiegelmer technology, which synthesizes nucleic acids that chemically are mirror images of natural nucleic acids. Spiegelmers bind to their natural counterparts with high affinity, as well as to other biochemical structures. Researchers can use them for target finding or as potential drugs.

The company intends to develop new biopharmaceuticals with Spiegelmer technology.

Noxxon, of Berlin, has agreements with four big pharma or industry partners. One with Aachen, Germany-based Grünenthal deals with target finding for new antipain drugs. "We expect this project to enter drug development, with clinical research in three years," Klein said.

A peptide hormone is subject of an agreement with Schering AG, of Berlin. "We agreed on cooperating until proof of efficacy for this deal," Klein said. With Fresenius Kabi, of Friedberg, Germany, and Fresenius Hemocare, of Bad Homburg, Germany, Noxxon cooperates in developing affinity media. "[Results of] this agreement shall enter the market in 2004," Klein said.

"In our start-up phase, such industrialization projects made our main revenues and enabled us to scale up the technology," Klein said. "We now want to bring our own proprietary projects as far as to Phase II of clinical research." The first candidate - a product for transplantation medicine - is expected to enter clinical trials at the beginning of 2002. Further details were not disclosed.

According to Klein, Noxxon is in discussions with several big pharma companies concerning additional cooperative agreements. There will be one major big pharma deal at a minimum next year, he said.

The recent financing was led by Merlin Biosciences, with an investment of EUR8M. Other investors included the Westdeutsche Landesbank Girozentrale, Hannover Finanz GmbH, bmp Life Science AG Berlin, and the BCF Berlin Capital Fund.

In its first financing round, the company raised DM 2.5 million (US$1.1 million). There was also capital from a silent partnership of DM 5 million.