Vical Inc. has raised $9.5 million in an oversubscribed round ofventure financing, the gene therapy company said Monday.

The round was led by Venrock Associates, which, along withU.S. Venture Partners, Grace Horn Ventures and SorrentoAssociates, is making its first investment in Vical. Previousinvestors participating in the round were Hillman Ventures,Morgenthaler Ventures, Sanderling Venture Partners, SecurityPacific Capital and Sutter Hill Ventures.

The money will be used to develop Vical's Gene Therapeuticstechnology, which uses direct injection into muscle cells of apiece of DNA or RNA encoding a protein of interest to treat andprevent infectious diseases, autoimmune disorders, geneticdiseases and cancer.

Vical hopes to begin clinical trials of its first product, an HIVimmunotherapeutic vaccine, late this year or early in 1993. Thevaccine will be a gene construct of either DNA or RNA codingfor the gp120 coat protein of the AIDS virus, said Robert Zaugg,senior director of business development.

The drug, which initially will be tested in very sick patients, isdesigned to elicit a cytotoxic T lymphocyte response. CTLs seekout and eliminate infected cells. Later trials may use constructsbased on core antigens instead of gp120, said Zaugg.

Vical, founded in 1987, had planned to raise $7 million in thisround. The San Diego company had raised $8.9 million inearlier rounds.

Last June, Vical and Merck & Co. entered into a collaboration todevelop vaccines for human infectious diseases. -- KarenBernstein

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