Neurocrine Biosciences Inc. has raised $30 million in a privateplacement, primarily from private individuals making theirfirst investment in the company, the company's president andchief executive officer, Gary Lyons, told BioWorld on Tuesday.

About $5 million of the total came from venture capital firmsthat launched the company in 1992: Avalon Ventures, KleinerPerkins Caufield and Byers, Schroder Ventures and D. Blech &Co.

The funding, which Lyons said should support Neurocrine'soperations for two-and-a-half years, will be used for researchand development of treatments for anxiety and depression,multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis and Alzheimer'sdisease. The placement was managed by Kidder, Peabody & Co.Inc., Gruntal & Co., and D. Blech & Co.

Neurocrine of La Jolla, Calif., has 12 licensing agreements and20 patents or patent applications in its product portfolio, Lyonssaid. These include patents from Wylie Vale, professor ofpeptide biology at the Salk Institute and Neurocrine's chiefscientist of neuroendocrinology; and Lawrence Steinman,professor of neurological sciences at Stanford University Schoolof Medicine, upon whose research the company's developmentprograms are based.

The company's R&D strategy is based on the modulation ofextracellular signaling molecules the company believes areresponsible for communication between the nervous, immuneand endocrine systems.

Neurocrine has developed lead compounds or drug candidatesin three of its four development programs, Lyons said. Thecompany is studying a potential therapeutic for anxiety anddepression and has identified four neuroimmunosteroid drugcandidates, one of which is in a Phase II physician-sponsoredtrial at the University of California, Los Angeles, for thetreatment of memory impairment associated with Alzheimer'sdisease. The company has two lead molecules in its multiplesclerosis program and has received a Phase I small businessinnovative research grant for one of them this month.

Neurocrine hopes to file investigational new drug applicationsfor Phase I human clinical trials on some of these agents latethis year or early in 1995, Lyons said.

The $30 million private placement is the company's first equityfinancing since its launch with $3.5 million in venture capital.

-- Karl A. Thiel Business Editor

(c) 1997 American Health Consultants. All rights reserved.