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Avid RP Closes Financing to Support Development of Alzheimer’s Diagnostic and Prognostic Agents

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Avid Radiopharmaceuticals, Inc. has announced the closing of its first institutional financing round, raising $8.9 million from new and existing investors.

Avid’s radiolabeled compounds, which bind to amyloid plaque, are being developed to enable physicians to diagnose Alzheimer’s in real-time and allow researchers to evaluate the many drug candidates targeting amyloid plaque.

The financing was led by Pfizer’s Strategic Investments Group and included Lilly Ventures, the venture capital arm of Eli Lilly and Company, RK Ventures, LLC and BioAdvance, the Biotechnology Greenhouse of Southeastern Pennsylvania.

The round included both new investments and the conversion of existing convertible notes.

"This investment represents a significant step towards our goal of rapidly commercializing molecular imaging agents for disease diagnosis and personalized medicine," said Daniel Skovronsky, M.D., Ph.D., president and CEO of Avid.

"We are pleased that Pfizer and Lilly are supporting Avid in our efforts to improve diagnostic and treatment options for Alzheimer’s patients."

Avid intends to use this financing to support preclinical and clinical studies of its compounds that bind to and image the chief constituent of amyloid plaque, a major feature of Alzheimer’s disease.

"Despite advances in research and treatment, Alzheimer’s disease remains an area of unmet medical need," said Ilya Oshman, vice president of Pfizer Strategic Investments Group.

"Avid’s novel molecular imaging agents have the potential to speed the development of new agents to accurately diagnose and treat Alzheimer’s patients, and we are pleased to join in the first institutional round for this promising company."

Avid expects that its molecular imaging agents will be immediately useful for drug development by allowing researchers to assess early on whether their drugs designed to reduce amyloid plaque are actually impacting the intended target.

These molecular imaging agents may enable physicians to definitively diagnose Alzheimer’s disease and to select and monitor appropriate treatments for individual patients.

"As early investors supporting Avid’s rapid progress, we are impressed by the company’s combination of cutting edge technology, forceful leadership, clear path to early commercialization and large clinical and commercial potential," said Matthew Rhodes-Kropf, Ph.D., general partner of RK Ventures.

Avid’s imaging agents, which are exclusively licensed to the company by inventors Hank Kung, Ph.D., and colleagues at the University of Pennsylvania, can be used with a variety of common, noninvasive imaging technologies such as PET and SPECT scanning.

The company’s technology for the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s has already been demonstrated in pilot human studies and its first commercial product is expected to enter clinical trials in 2006.