By Mary Welch

Repligen Corp. will raise $9 million through a private placement of common stock in order to fund clinical trials of secretin for autism.

The Needham, Mass.-based company will issue 3.6 million shares at $2.50 per share under a definitive agreement. Currently, there are about 18.3 million shares outstanding. Paramount Capital, of New York, was the financial advisor, and participants in the financing included funds managed by the Wellington Management Co. LLP, of Boston.

¿It was fully subscribed to the max,¿ said Walter Herlihy, president and CEO of Repligen. ¿The response, not only to the offering, but to the entire area of looking at secretin for autism, has been overwhelming. We had the 60 Minutes¿ of Australia in here the other day.¿

Repligen recently obtained the exclusive worldwide rights to the use of secretin, a naturally occurring intestinal hormone that aids in the digestive process. Anecdotal reports, based on studies of approximately 2,000 children, indicate that secretin may help in the gastrointestinal function, language, social behavior and sleep in autistic children. (See BioWorld Today, March 11, 1999, p. 1.)

Herlihy said trials will begin this year and involve at least 100 children. The trials will use a synthetic, human form of secretin, and most likely would be Phase II, he said.

¿Secretin is already approved by the FDA, so we know a lot about it,¿ Herlihy said. ¿We¿re looking at endpoints. People are totally naove to think one shot will do it. Some have gotten good results with one dose, but the real power is in the repetition. Then you start looking at their attention spans and let their education start taking effect.¿

Herlihy, whose daughter is autistic, believes Repligen is at the forefront of managing autism. ¿There are more than 500,000 kids under the autism umbrella and nobody is doing anything,¿ he said. ¿If I were a capitalistic type, I would see a vast untapped market and look to see what¿s up with it.¿

Repligen¿s stock (NASDAQ:RGEN) closed Monday at $2.937, down 3.13 cents. n