CombiChem Inc. said it has completed a $10 million financingearmarked for the finalization of the combinatorial chemistrycompany's drug discovery engine, a component of which is the finalphase of software development.

The software includes both a hypothesis generation capability andvirtual library data base search engine. A third use of the funds willbe to finalize CombiChem's medicinal chemistry capabilities.

The financing was led by three new investors including JapanAssociated Finance Co. Ltd., of Tokyo, Brentwood Venture Capital,of Menlo Park, Calif. and S.R. One Ltd., of Wayne, Pa. It alsoincluded existing investors and members of the company'smanagement team.

CombiChem President and CEO Vicente Anido Jr. told BioWorldToday that approximately $500,000 of the financing came fromcompany employees, which he described as unusual and that itillustrated confidence in the future of the company.

The three new investors, Anido said, provided approximately half ofthe funding and the balance came from management and existinginvestors.

"Normally, in private companies the management team rarely puts upits own money," Anido said. Anido was appointed CEO ofCombiChem in March. Prior to his appointment, he was president ofthe Americas Region of Allergan Inc., of Irvine, Calif.

CombiChem, of San Diego, is a privately owned molecular discoverycompany, which integrates combinatorial chemistry withcomputational drug design, bioinformatics and automated chemicalsynthesis to identify, optimize and enable broader patent protectionfor new pharmaceuticals.

Earlier this month, CombiChem and Roche Bioscience, of Palo Alto,Calif., announced a collaboration on three projects in lead generation,lead evolution and lead optimization. The collaboration, RocheBioscience said, is geared toward bringing new therapeutics to themarket and will make use of CombiChem's Drug Discovery Engineand Universal Informer Library as means to discover, evolve andoptimize lead compounds in shorter periods of time.

In April, CombiChem signed its first lead optimization collaborationwith Teijin Ltd, of Osaka, Japan. which enabled the two companies toembark on projects to discover antagonists of a specific G-proteincoupled receptor target. CombiChem agreed to design and synthesizecompound libraries based around Teijin's lead molecule. Teijinagreed to perform screening and biological support. Up-frontfunding, research support and milestone payments to CombiChemwas approximately $10 million. Additionally, CombiChem willreceive royalties.

CombiChem and the Biotage Division of Dyax, based inCharlottesville, Va., are working together to develop the firstautomated parallel purification system for combinatorial libraries,which, the company said, is capable of rapidly purifying 20compounds in parallel. The system, CombiChem said, should beavailable for CombiChem's drug discovery activities next year.

CombiChem completed a $10.64 million private placement in 1995,which was led by The Sprout Group, a New York-based venturecapital firm, and included such new investors as Brinson Partners Inc.Sofinnova, Singapore Bio-Innovations Ltd. and Sorrento AssociatesInc. n

-- Frances Bishopp

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