By Lisa Seachrist
Select Therapeutics Inc. raised $9.5 million in a private placement for the dual purposes of initiating clinical trials for its cancer therapeutics and moving its stock's trading status from the OTC Bulletin Board to Nasdaq.
Select, of Cambridge, Mass., raised the funds from North American and European institutions, including banks and insurance companies. Clayton Dunning & Co. Inc., of New York, served as the placement agent.
"Listing on the Nasdaq will give us a lot more credibility and exposure with investors," said company spokeswoman Dawn Van Zant. "Obviously, it's prohibitive to seek strategic alliances and capital on the OTC Bulletin Board. This financing really positions us where we would like to be."
Van Zant said the money also will permit the company to initiate Phase I clinical trials with its VT-1 product for the treatment of astrocytoma (brain tumors) and as a means of purging cancer cells from collected stem cells. The company has all the necessary approvals to begin the trials but was waiting for the financing to come through before commencing the studies.
"We'll be announcing the specifics of those trials shortly," Van Zant said.
VT-1 is a therapeutic formulation of verotoxin, a naturally occurring protein produced by strains of Escherichia coli. Verotoxin binds to specific receptors on the exterior surfaces of some living cells, including certain cancer cells. After the toxin binds to a cell, it penetrates it and kills it. Verotoxin has been shown to kill tumor cells in vitro without harming normal cells. A University of Alberta study demonstrated VT-1 could be an effective means of purging traces of cancer from stem cells. Patients who are undergoing autologous stem cell transplantation as a means of treating cancer need to have all traces of malignant cells removed from the preparations.
In addition to VT-1, the company is developing therapeutic cancer vaccines in collaboration with France's Insititut Curie in Paris and the Arizona Cancer Center in Tucson. The technology involves presenting antigens to dendritic cells, potent antigen-presenting cells with a unique capacity to stimulate the immune system. The cancer vaccine work still is at the preclinical stage; however, Van Zant said the company would be announcing its progress in this area soon.
Select's stock (OTCBB:SLPU) closed Friday at $5.375 a share, down 37.5 cents.