STAMFORD, Conn. -- Oxford Bioscience Partners, a $54 millionhealth care venture partnership, has invested $6.1 million insix U.S. biotechnology companies. The fund opened in August1992 and completed its oversubscribed fund-raising on June28.

Two of the three principals in Oxford Bioscience Partners, basedhere, opened a bottle of champagne on Tuesday to toast thesuccessful closing of their new venture kitty, which one of itspartners, Cornelius Ryan, told BioWorld, "is a highly focusedfund."

Ryan explained that the fund is concentrating onpharmaceutical and biotechnology enterprises that need early-stage, rather than mezzanine, financing. "We are very activelyinvolved in these first six portfolio companies," Ryan said, "withseats on four of their boards."

The six companies Oxford has invested in since last August are:

-- Avid Therapeutics of Philadelphia, which is developing anti-virals ($500,000 investment).

-- Geron Corp., a Menlo Park, Calif., company that is targetingsenescence ($633,175).

-- Human Genome Sciences of Rockville, Md., focusing ondiscovery and commercialization of gene and gene fragments.

-- OsteoArthritis Sciences of Cambridge, Mass., which isdeveloping interventional therapy ($1 million).

-- Prizm Pharmaceuticals Inc., a San Diego-based companyfocusing on growth-factor regulation ($1 million).

-- Vivus Inc., a Menlo Park company developing maleimpotence drug therapy ($2 million).

"We have a fairly strong orientation to Europe, with more than40 percent of our fund's dollars coming from overseas,including Europe, Japan and Canada," Ryan said. On the otherhand, he added, most investments will be made in U.S.companies.

Since 1986, Oxford's previous investments totaled $43.4 millionin 30 recipient companies, with 21 of them in biotechnologyand most of the other nine in medical devices. That sumreturned $55.6 million. Current value as of June 3 stands at$60.6 million, for a total value of $116.2 million.

Oxford's Connecticut office is headed by general partners Ryanand Alan Walton. Its West Coast partner, Edmund Olivier, is inCosta Mesa, Calif.

-- David N. Leff Science Editor

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