Arris Pharmaceutical Corp. said Monday that it raised $15.5million in a private financing that will largely back its efforts inthe rational design of therapeutics for treating chronicpulmonary diseases.

Arris is pursuing orally active, small-molecule drugs againstfour initial disease targets: asthma, bronchitis, anemia andatherosclerosis. The furthest along, an asthma therapeutic,could reach clinical trials by 1994, said Michael D. Ross,president and chief executive officer of South San Francisco,Calif.-based Arris.

The company said it uses its proprietary enabling technologiesthat use artificial intelligence to integrate biological researchand medicinal chemistry. What distinguishes Arris from otherrational drug design companies is its greater reliance oncomputer-generated data instead of X-ray crystallography andnuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy techniques todevelop and optimize new drug designs, Ross said.

The new round of financing brings to $27 million the amount offinancing raised by the company since its founding in 1989.The company has 40 employees.

Four new investors on this round were led by Allstate VentureCapital, a division of Allstate Insurance Co. in Northbrook, Ill.The other four were Advent Ltd. of London, AdventInternational of Boston, New Enterprise Associates andBessemer Venture Partners. Montgomery Securities of SanFrancisco managed the placement. Allstate Venture's groupmanager, James M. Garvey, was elected to the Arris board ofdirectors.

Previous investors in Arris include C.W. Group; Kleiner, Perkins,Caufield & Byers; Venrock Associates; DSV Partners; FairfieldVentures; and Accel Partners.

Ross sees as most akin to his company's technology two otherrational drug developers, Agouron Pharmaceuticals Inc.(NASDAQ:AGPH) and Vertex Pharmaceuticals Inc.(NASDAQ:VRTX), and to some extent Affymax N.V.(NASDAQ:AFMXF). "None of them are working on the sameprojects we are," he said.

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