EpiTan raises $7.4m in share placement

By Melissa Trudinger
Monday, 25 August, 2003

EpiTan (ASX:EPT) has raised nearly AUD$7.4 million in a share placement of 14.5 million shares priced at $0.51, providing cash reserves to see the company through to the end of 2004.

"We are delighted to have successfully completed this placement which increases our cash resources to over $10 million. The company is now in a financially secure position to move on rapidly with its clinical trial program for our leading drug candidate, Melanotan," said managing director Dr Wayne Millen in a statement.

According to chief administrative officer Iain Kirkwood, the funds will be used to expand and accelerate the company's clinical trials program, including production of additional implants and drug for clinical trials. Melanotan is currently in Phase II clinical trials to evaluate the drug's ability to reduce skin damage in response to exposure to harmful levels of UV light.

But the company plans to extend its clinical trials program to evaluate the use of the drug as a treatment for polymorphous light eruption (PMLE), a UV-triggered skin allergy seen in 10 to 20 per cent of the population of North America, Britain and Scandinavia. Kirkwood said Melanotan may alleviate or eliminate the condition, and a clinical study in Europe is in the works.

In addition, EpiTan is planning to perform a genotyping study in Queensland, to enable identification of individuals with skin types associated with a high risk of skin cancer.

Clinical trials of the sustained release implant and formulations will be initiated toward the end of 2003, according to Kirkwood, with an estimated completion date of May 2004. In addition, he said a pre-IND meeting with the FDA was scheduled for October to discuss requirements for US trials.

"We hope to get to Phase III trials by the end of 2004," Kirkwood said.

At the time of writing, EpiTan's share price remained steady at $0.63.

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