Israeli firm will use proceeds to fund Phase III trials with stroke therapy.

Israeli company D-Pharm raised NIS 85 million (about $23 million) through a combined oversubscribed IPO that secured some NIS 28 million and a rights offering of NIS 57 million. The company says that it’s premoney valuation was about NIS 120 million (approximately $31.54).

Most of the funds will be used for a pivotal Phase III trial of D-Pharm’s DP-b99, which is in development for the treatment of acute ischaemic stroke. FDA cleared the IND application for the Phase III MACSI trial in June. The study will include about 770 patients with moderately severe ischaemic stroke in clinical centers in North America, Europe, South Africa, and Israel.

DP-b99 is a neuroprotective, membrane-active chelator derived from the known calcium chelator BAPTA. Administration of the drug is supposed to start within nine hours of stroke onset. Previously reported data from a Phase IIb trial with DP-b99 showed treatment with the drug doubled the percentage of patients that completely recovered from ischaemic stroke.

D-Pharm says that it also intends to investigate the drug’s potential in the treatment of traumatic brain injury and for prophylactic treatment of neurological damage associated with coronary artery bypass graft procedures.

DP-b99 was developed using D-Pharm’s Membrane Activated Chelator  (MAC) technology, which hinges on the use of lipids to develop small molecule drugs that function only within the lipid environment of cell membranes. MAC drugs are essentially switched off in hydrophilic environments such as blood plasma, extracellular fluids, and cytoplasm and switched on in lipophilic environments. D-Pharm claims this property means MACs can be developed as highly potent and safe medicines for the treatment of pathological processes precipitated by abnormal ion distribution thereby preventing cell apoptosis.

Commenting on the combined fundraising, D-Pharm’s board chairman, Ruben Krupik, says, “This is a unique offering because the current shareholders provided most of the financing. We gave the public the opportunity to participate, while taking most of the risk upon ourselves.”

CEO, Alex Kozak, Ph.D., adds, “I am happy to see the Israeli public sector investors supporting an advanced clinical-stage company like D-Pharm. I hope that our IPO opens the door to the flotation of other companies, especially in the biotech industry.”
D-Pharm’s pipeline includes DP-VPA, a derivative of the antepilepsy drug, valproic acid (VPA). Developed using the company’s RAP™ technology, DP-VPA has already completed a Phase II trial in patients with complex partial epilepsy. The RAP platform involves chemically linking a lipid vector to the active site of a drug.

This creates an inactive prodrug that is only activated at the site of disease when disease-specific enzyme activity cleaves off the lipid vector. D-Pharm believes that the application of its D-RAP™ Technology has allowed the development of a better VPA candidate, with all the utilities of the parent drug but an improved safety profile. DP-VPA is also in development for the treatment of bipolar disorder and for migraine prophylaxis.

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