Venture capitalists have pumped $7 million into PharmacopeiaInc. so the company can commercialize its novel drug-screeningtechnology.

Privately held Pharmacopeia of Princeton, N.J., is announcing itsround of initial venture capital financing today. AvalonVentures, Institutional Venture Partners and Kleiner PerkinsCaufield & Byers provided the financing. Avalon also providedPharmacopeia with about half a million dollars in seedfinancing, and Avalon's general partner, Lawrence Bock, is oneof the founders of the company.

Pharmacopeia is based on technology for the rapid synthesis,screening and optimization of large numbers of potential drugs.The company said it is currently developing techniques forproducing "enormous pools of pharmaceutically relevantcompounds for screening against biological targets."

Pharmacopeia scientists can prepare "a 'library' of tens ofmillions of small molecule compounds" and screen them in justa few days using automated bioanalytical assays, the companysaid.

Bock told BioWorld that other drug-screening companies, suchas Houghton Pharmaceuticals Inc., Selectide Inc. and AffymaxN.V., make libraries of peptides, oligonucleotides or RNA. ButPharmacopeia has an advantage in that it can create libraries ofsmall chemical compounds that have demonstrated utility aspharmaceuticals, he said.

The company plans to produce drug candidates for suchdiseases as AIDS, cancer, diabetes, arthritis and tuberculosis. Itwill take lead compounds through preclinical development andthen license them to other companies.

Pharmacopeia's screening technology was developed by W.Clark Still of Columbia University and Michael Wigler of ColdSpring Harbor Laboratory. They are the scientific founders ofthe company, along with Paul Bartlett of the University ofCalifornia, Berkeley, and Bertram Rowland of the Palo Alto,Calif., law firm Flehr, Hohbach and Test.

Pharmacopeia's president and chief scientific officer is JohnChabala, formerly vice president of discovery chemistry atBristol-Myers Squibb. John Baldwin, a Merck DistinguishedSenior Scientist and 30-year veteran with the pharmaceuticalcompany, is Pharmacopeia's vice president of chemistry.

Pharmacopeia's board of directors includes representativesfrom Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Institutional VenturePartners and Sandoz Pharmaceutical Corp., a limited partner ofAvalon.

-- Brenda Sandburg News Editor

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