By Mary Welch

Telik Inc. (formerly Terrapin Technologies Inc.) completed a $10.5 million self-managed private equity financing with International BM Biomedicine Holdings Inc., of Basel, Switzerland, a new investor, and Sanwa Kaguku Kenkyusho Co. Ltd., of Nagoya, Japan.

South San Francisco-based Telik will use the additional funds to underwrite research and development programs into the year 2000. The company would not disclose how much equity each investor owns in Telik.

"We are very gratified by the response, especially given the current financial climate," said Clifford Orent, chairman and CEO of Telik. Biomedicine was attracted by Telik's "strong proprietary drug discovery technology, and that we leveraged that technology to identify clinical candidates."

The company has three internal programs based on its knowledge of protein and small-molecule interactions identified by the company's TRAP chemoinformatics drug discovery technology.

TRAP uses a probability-based approach to screen compounds, examining a small representative sample of the company's small-molecule compound library to quickly find hits and start lead optimization. The system also classifies small-molecule compounds by distinct patterns based on protein-binding properties, rather than chemical structure or other computed parameters.

As a result, Telik said, TRAP can be used to characterize and/or validate the pharmacology of biological targets, and predict functional relationships with various compounds without having to know the structure of either the biological targets or the compounds.

Telik's first product candidate, TER286, is expected to enter clinical trials next year. An anticancer compound, it has exhibited activity against a variety of tumors and tumor cells, particularly against those that are resistant to many commonly used chemotherapeutic agents. This tumor-activated cytotoxic agent becomes toxic when it encounters glutathione S-transferase (GST-P1), an enzyme implicated in breast, colon, lung and ovarian tumors. Telik is in a developmental partnership with Taiho Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd., of Tokyo.

In January 1997, Telik signed a deal with Sanwa, under which Telik could receive up to $22.5 million for the development of a Type II diabetes drug. The partnership expects to identify a lead compound next year, and is seeking a small molecule that can bind to and activate the insulin receptor to lower blood glucose levels in diabetes patients. (See BioWorld Today, Jan. 16, 1997, p. 1.)

Telik also expects to have a second oncology compound, a small-molecule myelostimulant for chemotherapy induced neutropenia, in Phase I trials by late 1999, Orent said. The company hopes to sign a global partner for this compound.

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