By Lisa Seachrist

Washington Editor

Acadia Pharmaceuticals Inc. raised $15.5 million in a private placement of its preferred stock. The San Diego-based company will use the funds to focus on its internal drug discovery program and accelerate the development of its pharmacogenomics business.

The mezzanine round of financing was led by H&Q Healthcare Investors and H&Q Life Sciences Investors, both of Boston, and OrbiMed Advisors LLC, of New York. The U.S. investors were joined by existing investors Dansk Kapitalanlaeg Aktieselskab and Kommunernes Pensionsforsikring A/S, both of Copenhagen, Denmark.

"This is a key event for the company," said Thomas Aasen, vice president and chief financial officer for privately held Acadia. "It's important because we've added a number of high-quality U.S. investors to our base of international investors. And, we achieved our goal of raising $15 million."

Aasen said there was a high demand to participate in the placement. The financing gives the company in excess of $25 million in cash. Aasen said the funds "will support plant operations for a considerable period of time."

Acadia uses an evidence-based discovery platform that links a wide diversity of genomic and chemical information to generate gene-specific small-molecule drugs with improved therapeutic profiles. The company uses this functional genomics platform to provide services via its wholly owned subsidiary, Acadia PharmacoGenomics Inc.

In addition, Acadia has developed an in-house portfolio of drug discovery programs focused on neuropsychiatric and related disorders.

"We are focused on building a very broad base of development candidates and partnering those at the desired stage," Aasen said. "We evaluate each one on a case-by-case basis and look to license at the appropriate stage."

To date, the company has eight internal programs, and three of them are currently partnered, Aasen said. He noted, "We have one program in Phase I/II studies and three others on [investigational new drug] track development."

The company has two collaborations with Allergan Inc., of Irvine, Calif. The first goes back to 1994, was expanded in 1997, and centers on five potential glaucoma targets including the prostanoid receptor and alpha-adrenergic receptor. That deal included a $6 million up-front payment (buying a 12.5 percent ownership in Acadia), three years of research and development support and milestones of up to $12.5 million for the first product developed for each of five receptor targets. (See BioWorld Today, Sept. 26, 1997, p. 1.)

The second collaboration with Allergan is worth up to $38 million and is based on highly receptor-subtype selective muscarinic lead compounds. These compounds act through muscarinic receptors and also are being developed for use in glaucoma. (See BioWorld Today, July 28, 1999, p. 1.)