Therion Biologics Corp. announced Wednesday that it hascompleted a $4.1 million private placement.

New investors participating in the financing includedHambrecht & Quist, New York Life and Singapore Bio-Innovations Ltd. Previous investors participating are VCF-Therion L.P. (which was created by the Venture Capital Fund ofAmerica Inc.), S.R. One Ltd. (the venture capital arm ofSmithKline Beecham), Euclid Partners II L.P., Loeb Investors Co.XCVI, Northwood Ventures and Aspen Venture Partners L.P.

The current financing represents "a culmination of severalclosings over the last year, all of which were done on similarterms," explained Dennis Panicali, Therion's president and chiefexecutive officer.

Therion of Cambridge, Mass., comprises the vaccinedevelopment business spun off from the former AppliedbioTechnology Inc. (ABT) in July 1991, when Oncogene ScienceInc. (NASDAQ:ONCS) acquired the cancer therapy anddiagnostics components of ABT in a stock deal valued at about$10.5 million.

Therion twice attempted to go public, most recently in July1992, but withdrew its stock offering and has been raisingmoney privately since then.

The new cash infusion "should carry us through 1994," Panicalitold BioWorld. Therion intends to use the funds to advance theclinical development of its cancer vaccine and to continuepreclinical studies on its AIDS vaccines.

In July Therion initiated Phase I/II clinical trials for itsrecombinant vaccine TBC-CEA for treating colorectal, breast andlung cancers. The trials are being conducted in collaborationwith the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and are still enrollingpatients, Panicali said. Due to the nature of the diseases underinvestigation, "we won't be generating data for some time yet,"he added.

The live recombinant vaccine, which uses Therion's pox virusvectors, is designed to stimulate an immune response againstcells expressing carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA), a cell surfaceprotein associated with such cancers.

Therion is also readying an AIDS vaccine for the clinic. TermedTBC-3B, it is a live recombinant vaccinia virus incorporatingmultiple HIV antigens. Therion filed an investigational newdrug (IND) application for human trials on this vaccine earlierthis year but FDA requested additional testing, Panicaliexplained. "We hope to submit those data shortly." The TBC-3Bvaccine has already been "accepted into the National Institutesof Health's AIDS Vaccine Evaluation Group network (of theNational Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, orNIAID)," which will be conducting the trials, according toPanicali.

Therion's other AIDS vaccine candidate is based on workperformed by Harvard Medical School researcher RonaldDesrosiers, with whom the company established a license andresearch collaboration in March. Desrosiers is investigating theuse of an attenuated simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) as aputative AIDS vaccine.

Because Therion has collaborators such as the NCI and theNIAID, which have been "very supportive of the vaccine workand willing to take the products into the clinic," the company isable to focus most of its efforts on preclinical studies andpreparing material for the clinical trials, Panicali told BioWorld.

-- Jennifer Van Brunt Senior Editor

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