La Jolla Pharmaceutical Co., which is developing drugs to treatantibody-mediated diseases, has raised $14 million in itssecond round of venture financing.

The new investor group was led by Domain Associates andincludes S.R. One Ltd., Medical Venture Holdings, TechnoVenture Management and Ventana Growth Funds, as well asthe principal investors from LJP's first round, which raised $12million.

First-round investors were Harvard Management Co. Allstate,Security Pacific Capital, Concord Partners, BrentwoodAssociates, Wolfensohn Associates, New York Life, PhoenixPartners, Schroder Partners and Sorrento Associates.

Spun off from Quidel Corp. in 1989, LJP is developing drugs toblock or turn off the synthesis of antibodies in antibody-mediated diseases such as lupus, myasthenia gravis, Graves'disease, recurrent stroke and Rh incompatibility.

The company is constructing antigen-polymer conjugates thatwill tolerize B cells to specific antigens, shutting off productionof pathogenic antibodies by the B cells.

"The discovery that conjugates could permanently stop B cellsfrom producing antibodies was made about 10 or 20 yearsago," said Joseph Stemler, president and chief executive. "Butno one had come up with a practical application for it untilantigens could be characterized in detail and synthesizedchemically. Our contribution has been to determine the rulesfor building the conjugates."

Cortech Inc. is also using antigen-polymer conjugates tomodulate the immune system. Cortech's programs in this areaare focused on kidney damage in systemic lupuserythromatosis and ragweed allergy, according to Tim Rodell,vice president of operations at the Denver company.

San Diego-based LJP plans to file late this year its firstinvestigational new drug application, for LJP-105 to treatlupus. In preclinical studies, the compound turned off thesynthesis of anti-dsDNA antibodies. Patients with lupus makeantibodies to their cells and tissues, including antibodies todsDNA.

Stemler told BioWorld that LJP has no corporate partners, butis interested in working with other companies to market ordevelop the technology.

The company has also licensed two related technologies forautoimmune diseases. LJP licensed a muscle-targeted proteaseinhibitor to treat muscular dystrophy from a private company.Patent applications for technology to inhibit a key enzyme ininflammation, PLA2, were exclusively licensed from theUniversity of California, San Diego.

-- Karen Bernstein BioWorld Staff

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