By Mary Welch

Repligen Corp. entered into definitive agreements to raise $22.4 million through a private placement, the proceeds of which will be used to help fund its two products through Phase II trials.

¿It was more than we were looking for,¿ said Walter Herlihy, Repligen¿s president and CEO. ¿There was a lot of demand, and there is a lot of interest in autism.¿

The company will issue 2.6 million shares at $8.625 each, and the deal should close Thursday. Paramount Capital Inc., of New York, served as financial adviser.

The company currently has 26 million shares outstanding. As of March 1, it had about $30 million in cash.

Repligen intends to use part of the proceeds to enter Phase II trials with CTLA4, a protein that has immunosuppressive attributes, for bone marrow transplants. The trials should start this quarter.

¿It¿s a natural T-cell surface protein that is responsible for stopping immune responses,¿ Herhily said. In a Phase I study, CTLA4 showed a 99 percent reduction, on average, in the incidence of immune reactivity of the transplanted marrow against the host. The company believes that it may allow a genetically unmatched family member to donate bone marrow to a patient.

In addition to a planned Phase II study of CTLA4, Repligen intends to enter Phase II trials within the next few months with secretin for children with autism.

Last year Repligen acquired the worldwide rights to patent applications for the use of secretin, a natural hormone that some parents say is helpful in treating autistic children. Secretin is a naturally occurring intestinal hormone that aids in the digestive process. Secretin is already FDA approved for various gastrointestinal problems. When a national television show reported that some autistic children treated with secretin were showing signs of improvement, scores of small trials were conducted across the country. (See BioWorld Today, March 11, 1999, p. 1.)

However, late last year, a preliminary study by the National Institutes of Health suggested that a single dose of secretin failed to benefit children with autism. Repligen (and its stock) reacted strongly to the news. Herhily told BioWorld Today that his company ¿consistently maintained that a single dose would not produce significant results in a general group of autism spectrum patients.¿ (See BioWorld Today, Dec. 9, 1999, p. 1.)

Repligen also reported its third-quarter 2000 results, which ended Dec. 31. For the quarter, the company had a loss of $1.7 million, or 8 cents per share, on revenues of $864,000. Total revenues for the first nine months of the year were $2.5 million, and the net loss was $2.9 million.

Repligen¿s stock (NASDAQ:RGEN) closed Tuesday at $14.875, up $18.75.