By Randall Osborne

3-Dimensional Pharmaceuticals Inc. got a cash boost for its virtual drug-design programs in cancer and cardiovascular disease from a $10.4 million round of private financing, which brings to $38 million the amount raised by the privately held firm since its inception in 1993.

"This should do, for the immediate and mid-term," said Michael Wassil, chief financial officer of the Exton, Pa.-based company. He said the money was enough to operate "for a couple of years, but we've also got some cash reserves in the bank."

3-Dimensional's DirectedDiversity technology integrates computer-controlled rational drug design with combinatorial chemistry. Using the configuration of a genetic target, the company creates virtual compound libraries. These are screened by the computer and sorted into sublibraries, which are synthesized and then screened for activity in bioassays. The computer stores the assay results, using them to create an even more refined sublibrary, and the process continues.

Last year, the company signed a deal worth up to $112 million with Wyeth-Ayerst, a division of Madison, N.J.-based American Home Products Corp., to develop and market a drug that inhibits thrombin, the enzyme that converts fibrinogen into fibrogen and causes blood clots. (See BioWorld Today, June 17, 1997, p. 1.)

Another collaboration, worth up to $10 million, is with Merck KGaA, of Darmstadt, Germany, using Directed Diversity to discover and refine drugs for cardiovascular disease. With BioCryst Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Birmingham, Ala., 3-Dimensional is creating small-molecule inhibitors of serine proteases to treat inflammatory diseases. (See BioWorld Today, Oct. 23, 1996, p. 1, and BioWorld Today, Oct. 25, 1996, p. 1.)

3-Dimensional also is developing urokinase, an agent to inhibit the proliferation of cancer. In March 1997, when 3-Dimensional completed its third round of private financing and raised $12.5 million, the company said an initial public offering (IPO) would likely be its next form of financing. (See BioWorld Today, March 14, 1997, p. 1.)

Wassil said 3-Dimensional has "no immediate plans [for an IPO]. When the time is right, certainly we'll take another look, but with this financing and with the market conditions being what they are, we don't want to put our foot in the water."

The self-managed financing was completed with BB Biotech, an investment firm in Schaffhausen, Switzerland. *