Symphony Pharmaceuticals Inc., a private biopharmaceuticalcompany formed in 1991 to discover and develop drugs toregulate ion currents in the brain, announced that it hascompleted a $3 million private placement.

The financing, led by Fostin Capital, also included S.R. One Ltd.,Euclid Partners III L.P., Gateway Venture Partners III L.P. andGrotech.

Symphony's research focuses on discovering new drugs to treatneurological disorders and neurodegenerative diseases such ascentral nervous system trauma, epilepsy, anxiety, depression,and Huntington's, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases.

All of these afflictions are characterized by an abnormal flow ofions through ion channels in the brain. Symphony ofPhiladelphia is developing drugs to modulate that flow,particularly through the NMDA (N-methyl-D-aspartate)receptor, which is responsible for long-term potentiation.

"The compounds we are developing -- including our leadcompound -- all have the capacity to detect what the actualstimulation of the NMDA receptor is," explained Maria-LuisaMaccecchini, Symphony's chief executive officer. They act aspartial agonists. "If too much exogenous ligand, such as EAA(excitatory amino acid), is present, they will decrease the flow;if there's not enough exogenous ligand, they will increase it."

Symphony is developing two classes of compounds that act asNMDA-receptor modulators. One, which the company haslicensed from the National Institutes of Health, consists of theglycine partial agonist ACPC. The second consists of ConantokinG and its analogs, which act on a polyamine-related site on thereceptor.

Maccecchini said that preclinical tests have alreadydemonstrated that ACPC is effective as an anxiolytic, anti-depressant, anti-convulsant, neuroprotectant and enhancer ofneural plasticity. As well, it is orally active, passes the blood-brain barrier and was safe up to five grams per kilogram ofbody weight in rats.

"In vivo, we don't see the side effect profile of the NMDAchannel blockers (which abolish rather than modulate ionflow)," Maccecchini said. For instance, the side effects of thebenzodiazapine valium include sedation, muscle relaxation,ethanol interactions and valium addiction.

The company plans to file an investigational new drug (IND)application on its lead compound, ACPC, by the end of the year.

-- Jennifer Van Brunt Senior Editor

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

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