Emmaus Life Sciences said today it has raised $1.7 million through the sale of its common shares to a South Korean developer of natural-product drugs for chronic incurable diseases as well as preventative treatments.

The Korea Bio Medical Science Institute (KBMSI) purchased 377,778 common shares of Emmaus stock through a private placement as part of a collaboration agreement between the two companies.

Emmaus said the funds will be used to advance its  pharmaceutical grade L-glutamine treatment (PGLG), which has completed a 230-patient Phase III trial assessing its effectiveness in managing sickle cell disease, as well as for general corporate purposes.

“We look forward to collaborating with them on potential commercialization of products in Korea and continuing to explore other potential opportunities,” Emmaus Chairman and CEO Yutaka Niihara, M.D., MPH, said in a statement.

On January 14, Emmaus disclosed having raised $1.7 million toward the sale of a $40 million offering in a Form D or Notice of Exempt Offering of Securities filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

While that filing did not disclose KBMSI as the buyer, Emmaus revealed the stock transaction earlier, in a January 4 form 8-K filing that listed the price at $4.50 per share and suggested that KBMSI may buy additional Emmaus stock: “Under the Subscription Agreement, the Company may issue up to an additional $38.3 million of Shares at a purchase price of $4.50 per share on or prior to April 6, 2016.”

Established in 2009, KBMSI focuses on developing health food and medical supplies “through the harmony of traditional oriental medicine with modern science, to provide the universal value of quality of life.”

“Just like carefully building stones on the foundation, through more sincere, systematic, and scientific research and marketing, our traditional oriental medicine is going to be the solid foundation for helping build Korea biotechnology industry and a global medi-cluster,” KBMSI states on its website.

Based in Torrance, CA, Emmaus was founded to commercialize research on sickle-cell disease initiated by Dr. Niihara at the Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center.

Emmaus' sickle cell disease therapy has received Fast Track status from the FDA and European Medicines Agency, as well as the FDA’s Orphan Drug designation.

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