DUBLIN, Ireland — Eurona Medical AB raised US$8 million in its third financing round to advance its pharmacogenomic model of cardiovascular disease, which it is launching this quarter.

Bismuth Investments Ltd. (an affiliate of Morningside Ventures), HealthCap, the 6th Swedish National Pension Fund, Malmsten Invest AB and Forvaltnings AB Ratos participated in the recent placement.

Eurona, based in Uppsala, Sweden, has raised US$15 million since its establishment in 1994, CEO Per Lindstrom told BioWorld International. The most recent tranche "will take us quite further down the road," he said. Annual research and development expenditures are currently running at US$4 million to $5 million.

Eurona is seeking pharmaceutical partners to collaborate on a preclinical development program based on its platform technology. Eurona combines drug responsiveness data and patient outcome records with information on genetic variability to build up a predictive model that has application from preclinical drug development through to the clinical trial process and market surveillance activities. The approach involves the use of sophisticated data management and statistical tools.

The company has access to more than 3 million patient records from the Swedish health system, which stretch back 40 years, and an accompanying array of blood and tissue samples. A disease model typically involves around 1,000 patients' records, Lindstrom said.

Eurona's cardiovascular model is most advanced. Cancer is next in line, and it also works with disorders of the central nervous system. The company is testing its model of cardiovascular disease in a clinical outcome trial in Uppsala with some 400 subjects. The model covers six of the most commonly prescribed therapies for hypertension in Sweden, all of which target the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone (RAAS) enzyme system.

Eurona aims to demonstrate covariability of drug response with genetic variability, Lindstrom said. "We need to prove everything prospectively," he added. The trial will continue throughout this year, but the company expects to make a number of interim announcements before its conclusion.

Its cardiovascular disease model can handle 47 genetic and clinical parameters. It already has made the observation that genetic variants in the current trial serve the same purpose as clinical variants in a clinical trial, Lindstrom said.

Although establishing a preclinical drug development program is Eurona's top priority, the company also is developing what it calls "genetic signature assays," which are diagnostic tools that predict an individual's responsiveness to a particular drug. These have application in clinical trial design and subject selection, and in refining the target populations for existing therapies.

The assays are based on the data derived from Eurona's pharmacogenomic models, Lindstrom said. The company can produce them using a high-throughput array technology proprietary to Eurona and another, unnamed company. It will release further details about this partnership shortly, Lindstrom said.

Lindstrom established the company with Senior Vice President Torbjorn Schroder. Both previously worked with Pharmacia Biotech AB, of Uppsala. Schroder also has worked with Pharmacia Ophthalmics.

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