Free Radical Sciences, Inc. has raised $6.5 million in a private offering,the company said yesterday. The funds will be used to advance clinicaldevelopment of the company's antioxidant product, Procysteine, as atreatment for AIDS and Adult Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS)and to develop other products. A second placement is planned for laterthis year.Free Radical Sciences, of Cambridge, Mass., was founded in January1993 as a spin-off from Clintec Nutrition Company, a joint venturebetween Baxter Healthcare Corporation and Nestle S.A. The companydevelops and commercializes technologies to control the free radical-mediated oxidative damage that occurs in many diseases. Baxter andNestle provided initial funding for Free Radical and also took part inthe private placement, the first for the new company since its creation.Others who participated in the placement included Advent InternationalCorporation and The Venture Capital Fund of New England, bothbased in Boston, and New York City-based The Sprout Group.Free radicals, molecules that possess unpaired electrons, usuallycontain oxygen as one of their components. When something goeswrong in the body, there may be an overproduction of free radicals andan elevation of oxidative stress. Oxidative damage has been associatedwith chronic diseases such as cancer, rheumatoid arthritis and AIDS,and with acute diseases such as ARDS and ischemia reperfusion injury.Free Radical Science's approach is based on Procysteine, a proprietarycompound that stimulates the synthesis of glutathione. Glutathione, asmall peptide that occurs abundantly in the body, is a free radicalscavenger or natural antioxidant that combats the toxic effects ofexcess oxygen free radicals."When glutathione is depleted or decreased in the body, Procysteinecan be used to stimulate its production," said Gary Pace, the company'spresident and founder.Pace said Phase II trials of Procysteine as a treatment for ARDS,administered as an intravenous solution, have been completed. Theyinvolved 45 patients enrolled at five centers in the U.S. According toPace, the study results were encouraging, showing a reduction in theextent of morbidity and lung and organ failure with Procysteine. Hedeclined to be specific about the outcomes. Pace said the company ispreparing to seek permission from the FDA to begin Phase III trials.A Phase II trial of Procysteine, administered in pill form, as a treatmentfor AIDS is now underway in the U.S. and Australia. Pace said twoPhase I trials conducted in 50 patients in the U.S. showed the treatmentto be safe.
-- Philippa Maister
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