By Randall Osborne

West Coast Editor

Chalking up an agreement for C$40 million (US$27.5 million) in financing ¿ its largest to date ¿ Micrologix Biotech Inc. is talking with the FDA about the protocol for the Phase III trial of its lead infection blocker: MBI 226, an antimicrobial that targets central venous catheter-related (CVC) bloodstream infections.

¿That¿s the primary use of the proceeds, but I wouldn¿t say most of it will be used for [the MBI 226 trials],¿ said Arthur Ayres, comptroller of the Vancouver, British Columbia-based company, which focuses on life-threatening, antibiotic-resistant conditions.

Money from the private placement also will pay for Phase II clinical trials of MBI 594AN for the treatment of acne and MBI 853NL for the prevention of Staphylococcus aureus hospital-acquired infections. These trials are expected to begin in the second half of the year.

The financing, slated to close on or about March 20, is being made by a syndicate of underwriters co-led by TD Securities Inc. and Yorkton Securities Inc., and including RBC Dominion Securities Inc., Goepel McDermid Inc. and Canaccord Capital Corp.

They have agreed to buy 4 million special warrants at $10 per warrant, each entitling the holder to acquire a share of Micrologix.

Before the financing, Micrologix has about $20 million in cash, enough to last about three years ¿ although that term is not definite, Ayres said, since the company is still deciding protocol for the Phase III trial, expected to begin in the third quarter.

Already, trials of MBI 226 ¿have not been the conventional type,¿ Ayres said. ¿We have fast-track designation, and our Phase II study was a safety study in healthy volunteers. There were not efficacy endpoints.¿

CVC infections kill 25,000 people annually and there are no approved drugs to prevent or treat the infections, which most often are the result of either bacteria or fungi growing on the skin around the catheter insertion site and then down the catheter tract, where they come in contact with a patient¿s blood.

Last year, Micrologix raised C$15 million in a financing with a syndicate of underwriters, also led by Yorkton. (See BioWorld Today, Aug. 20, 1999, p. 1.)