Focal Inc., a private company based in Cambridge, Mass.,announced Friday that it raised $9.2 million in a private equityplacement of its series C preferred stock.

The offering was originally targeted for $6 million. A syndicateof venture capital firms participated in the offering, includingMayfield Fund, Domain Associates, Kleiner Perkins Caufield &Byers, Delphi Bioventures, Partech and Frazier & Co.

Focal was formed in 1991 with financing from the MayfieldFund to commercialize what it calls focal interventionaltherapeutics -- the site-specific administration of cell-specifictherapy through minimally invasive procedures. It combinesproprietary biodegradable polymers with focal interventionaldevices to administer a polymer as a structural or protectivebarrier and drug administration depot to a specific diseasedsite.

"We intend to use the proceeds from the current funding torapidly move into advanced development our lead products, abiodegradable photopolymer gel for the prevention of post-operative adhesions and a biodegradable paving stent for theprevention of restenosis," said Mark Levin, Focal's presidentand chief executive officer.

Post-surgical adhesions result when scar tissue forms betweentissues that don't normally adhere to eachother. They arecommon to practically all surgery patients, and can range inseverity. Focal is currently concentrating onobstetrics/gynecology surgeries.

Focal's approach to preventing such adhesions is to deliver tosites of potential adhesion a biocompatible, biodegradablepolymer in liquid form through a laproscopic applicator. Thepolymer can be photo-polymerized into a solid gel on demand,and in the future may also contain drugs to enhance theefficacy of the treatment.

For treating abrupt reclosure and restenosis associated withangioplasty, Focal intends to deliver a biodegradable polymerthrough a catheter to the site of angioplasty. The polymerwould be thermally reshaped within the lesion to form aconformal paving to mechanically resist the vessel'srenarrowing. In the future, the product will probablyincorporate anti-proliferative or anti-thrombotic agents intothe polymer.

Focal is also developing a means for treating age-relatedmacular degeneration (AMD), a condition that causes blindness.In this area, Focal intends to use a biodegradable polymer toadminister through a needle-like device therapeutic drugs toinhibit angiogenesis, or the formation of new blood capillariesthat is associated with AMD and other eye diseases. "We arejust beginning to license-in generic drugs for angiogenesis andother applications and we are still talking to antisense andpharmaceutical companies (to use their drugs in Focal'ssystems)," Levin told BioWorld.

-- Jennifer Van Brunt Senior Editor

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