By Frances Bishopp

3-Dimensional Pharmaceuticals Inc. has raised $12.5 million in new equity financing, funds earmarked to improve company infrastructure and to continue drug discovery efforts.

Thomas Stagnaro, president and CEO, told BioWorld Today that this financing is the third private financing for the privately held company since its founding in 1993. In October 1996, 3-Dimensional raised $5.4 million in a venture capital financing and in 1993, the Exton, Pa. company raised approximately $6 million.

"We are looking at using the tools of combinatorial chemistry, structure-based drug design and our proprietary chemi-informatics system, DirectedDiversity," Stagnaro said, "to advance both our own internal compounds as well as advancing those compounds for external partners."

DirectedDiversity is a proprietary method of directing combinatorial chemistry toward specific molecular targets, with the precision of structure-based design, to rapidly discover and optimize new drugs. This technology platform allows 3-Dimensional to discover and refine drugs active against a wide range of therapeutic targets more quickly than conventional approaches.

"DirectedDiversity is the process by which we are able to do parallel and iterative chemistry. It is an operating system to gather information from many parts of the drug discovery pipeline," Stagnaro explained.

Currently, 3-Dimensional has two products in the pipeline, the most advanced of which is an anti-thrombotic agent that is in pre-clinical evaluation. Stagnaro said 3-Dimensional is talking to a large number of large pharma companies about outlying licensing opportunities and further development of the product.

"The market opportunity here is somewhere between a minimum of $500 million to well over $1 billion," Stagnaro said. "The compound will take the place of one or more of the currently available drugs. Our product has been shown to be orally active at about 90-plus percent."

A second product for 3-Dimensional is urokinase, an antimetastatic agent against cancer proliferation. Urokinase, Stagnaro said, currently is in the discovery phase and the company hopes to enter the preclinical phase sometime in 1997.

3-Dimensional is collaborating with three companies: BioCryst Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Birmingham, Ala., to share resources and technology to expedite the discovery of new drug candidates for BioCryst's complement inhibition program; ViroPharma Inc., of Malvern, Pa., for the use of DirectedDiversity technology in the discovery and refinement of RNA viruses; and Merk KGaA, of Darmstadt, Germany, again for the use of DirectedDiversity to discover and refine drugs for cardiovascular disease.

Stagnaro said the company anticipates this third financing to be its last private financing and the next financing effort would most likely be an initial public offering.

With a burn rate of approximately $5 million to $6 million a year, Stagnaro expects this round of financing to "last us well over two years." *