Sequana Therapeutics on Thursday announced the completionof a $12 million private placement, its first round of financingsince it was funded last June with seed capital from AvalonMedical Partners and Forward Ventures.

Sequana of La Jolla, Calif., said it would use the money tofinance research and development on therapeutics based onnew knowledge and technologies emerging as a result of theHuman Genome Project.

The company is particularly interested in polygenic diseases(illnesses with singular clinical symptoms that have multiplegenetic causes). Sequana and its collaborators hope to identifyand positionally clone these genes using genomic maps, dataand technology from the Human Genome Project. Examples ofpolygenic conditions (and Sequana's initial disease targets)include obesity, osteoporosis and type II (adult onset) diabetes.

Sequana currently has a research agreement with The JacksonLaboratory of Bar Harbor, Maine, to study obesity in mice. Thecompany is working with The Southwest Foundation forBiomedical Research studying osteoporosis in baboon modelsand with Alopex Pharmaceuticals of Ridgewood, N.J., studyingcommon baldness.

This first round of financing, which was led by the SproutGroup, included Avalon Medical Partners, Forward Ventures,Institutional Venture Partners, Morgenthaler Ventures, NewEnterprise Associates and Sequoia Capital. Other investorsincluded Biotechvest, the Carlyle Group, Comdisco Ventures,Lawrence Bock, Gerald Cassidy and Sequana's chairman andchief executive, Kevin Kinsella.

Privately held Sequana would not disclose its current amountof cash on hand or burn rate.

RIBOGENE COMPLETES ACQUISITION OF DARBY

By Karl A. ThielAssociate Editor

RiboGene Inc. announced Thursday that it has completed itsacquisition of Darby Pharmaceuticals Inc., a subsidiary ofRugby-Darby Group Companies.

RiboGene of Hayward, Calif., acquired Darby for $4.4 million incash, payable over four years, and a warrant to purchase anundisclosed number of shares of RiboGene stock. While otherdetails of the deal were not disclosed, a company source placedits total value at under $10 million.

Darby brings to RiboGene nine drug products in various stagesof development, including Emitasol, which is in Phase IIIclinical trials, and Migrastat, which is in Phase IIs.

Emitasol is an intranasal form of metoclopramide for treatingnausea and vomiting associated with chemotherapy orradiation therapy. RiboGene hopes to file an NDA for theproduct in late 1994 or early 1995. Migrastat is an intranasalpropanolol for the treatment of migraine headache. Thecompany hopes to move into Phase III in late 1994 or early1995.

Privately held RiboGene has traditionally focused ontherapeutic agents for viral diseases, fungal infections andcancer. Before its acquisition of Darby, also a private company,its pipeline consisted of small molecule therapeutics based onthe company's protein-translation discovery technology.

Although Darby has developed new dosage forms for a widerange of approved drugs, RiboGene intends to remainspecialized. The products the company feels are outside of itsspecialty, including Migrastat, will be developed and marketedthrough corporate alliances.

Three of Darby's products appear to fit well into RiboGene'sspecialty. In addition to Emitasol the company gained two otherpreclinical oncology agents: an antibody-enzyme for bladdercarcinoma and RG003 for both AIDS- and chemotherapy-associated immunosuppression.

The company stressed that none of Darby's products are newchemical entities, a fact that should reduce FDA approval timeand lead to more rapid commercialization. RiboGene's chairman,president and chief executive, Charles Casamento, toldBioWorld that the addition of two former Darby executives --Leonard Lachman, who will be medical director, and ArthurGoldberg, now RiboGene's vice president of PharmaceuticalDevelopment -- will bring additional experience in drugdevelopment to RiboGene, whose strength has been drugdiscovery.

Casamento likened the deal to 'a fish swallowing a whale.' "Ibelieve this is the first case of a private biotechnology companybuying a pharmaceutical company," he said. "I think it's quitean accomplishment for us."

-- Karl A. Thiel Associate Editor

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