LONDON - Cerebrus Ltd., which specializes in discovery and development of drugs to treat central nervous system (CNS) diseases, has raised £10.5 million in a private placement, and intends to seek a full listing within the next 12 months.

All the company's existing institutional shareholders took part in the financing round. They were joined by three new U.K. institutional shareholders whose names were withheld. Cerebrus said the three do not usually invest in private companies, and they wished to remain anonymous to avoid being flooded with proposals.

CEO Andrew Smith told BioWorld International, “I would not say it was easy to raise the money, but in the end we could have taken in more than we did.

“We have raised £24 million in the last 24 months, putting us in a very strong cash position. We have told the new investors that, depending on market conditions, we will go public within the next year.“

Smith said Cerebrus' appeal to investors is its broad base. “There are already two programs in the clinic,“ he observed. “We have a depth of programs in drug discovery and are moving forward on a very broad front. We expect to have three to four programs in the clinic by the time we float.“

The company is working on treatments for Parkinson's disease, anxiety, obesity, stroke and traumatic brain injury.

Cerebrus, based in Wokingham, U.K., also has developed a number of what its describes as “highly predictive“ models of CNS disorders, which it uses to evaluate its own lead compounds and to provide a lead evaluation service.

As yet the company has not signed partners for any of its projects. “We want to get the best value,“ Smith said. “Although we have said we will partner at Phase I, we are not desperate to partner at the moment.“

If the company did a deal it would be looking for a true collaboration, not just a licensee. “We have a strong development capability in CNS which we would want to capitalize,“ Smith said. *