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GEN News Highlights : Apr 14, 2010

AiCuris Raises €55M to Continue Phase II Trials of Cytomegalovirus Drug Candidate

Bayer HealthCare spin-out is looking to outlicense the HCMV program and other immune-modulator candidates.

Anti-infectives company AiCuris raised €55 million (about $74.85 million) in a second round of financing with existing shareholders. The firm claims the new investment represents one of the largest financing rounds in the German biotech industry for a number of years.

The new funds will be used to progress development of the firm’s lead human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) inhibitor, AIC246, and other pipeline candidates against herpes simplex virus, HIV, hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and multi-resistant bacteria.

AiCuris was spun out of Bayer HealthCare’s anti-infectives unit in 2006. Its pipeline of 10 candidates includes two compounds in Phase II development and five in Phase I. The firm claims that nearly all its drugs stem from novel chemical classes, with most exhibiting novel modes of action.

Despite the new injection of capital, Aicuris is looking to outlicense its HCMV program, which includes three compounds beyond AIC246. Two immune-modulator programs for antiviral and autoimmune diseases are also available for outlicensing/partnering.

“As a company of our size, we cannot drive forward 10 development projects on our own,” comments Helga Rübsamen-Schaeff, Ph.D., CEO. 

In September 2006, AiCuris reported positive results from a Phase II trial with AIC246. The study, involving 27 transplant patients (26 kidney transplant patients and 1 bone marrow transplant recipient), compared therapy using either one of two doses of AIC246 with standard of care, valganciclovir. AiCuris says that AIC246 also demonstrated efficacy in the treatment of one patient who had developed viremia due to HCMV that was resistant to ganciclovir, foscarnet, and cidofovir.

In November 2009, the firm announced the successful completion of three Phase I studies with AIC316 for the treatment of herpes simplex virus infections. AIC316 is a first-in-class helicase-primase inhibitor that the firm claims has a different mode of action compared with currently available drugs for treating herpes simplex.