Light Sciences Oncology Lines Up Extra $35M Financing For Targeted Cancer Treatment

Xconomy Seattle — 

Light Sciences Oncology, the Bellevue, WA-based developer of an unusual drug-device combo treatment for cancer, has put itself in position to raise $35 million for its product development through setting up a line of credit and offering investors warrants to buy shares, according to a regulatory filing released today.

The latest financing comes about 16 months after Light Sciences Oncology pocketed $40.1 million in venture capital. The newest transaction gives Light Sciences Oncology the right to access a $23.3 million line of credit, along with access to $11.8 million more if investors choose to exercise warrants, according to the regulatory filing. The company hasn’t yet borrowed money under the line of credit, the document says. CEO Llew Keltner, the super-busy CEO I profiled last year, couldn’t immediately be reached for comment. If Light Sciences collects the full amount, it will have raised $172 million for its drug development programs since inception.

Light Sciences Oncology is attempting to develop the first treatment of its kind against cancer. The system works by using a light-emitting diode, guided by a biopsy needle, which doctors can thread inside a solid tumor with the help of an ultrasound or CT imaging machine. The patient is then injected with an inactive chemical drug called talaporfin sodium (Aptocine). Once the light is turned on, powered by cheap AAA batteries, it is designed to activate the drug to kill tumors while sparing nearby healthy tissue. The light stays on for almost three hours, during which time the patient can watch TV or read a magazine. After the treatment period, the patient goes home.

The technology is being put to the test in a pivotal clinical trial of more than 200 patients with liver cancer. Light Sciences Oncology hasn’t yet announced the results of that study, which began recruiting patients in November 2006. But other signs from the company have suggested that it likes what it is seeing so far. In August, Light Sciences started two new clinical trials of the technology for two very different applications—treating children with neurofibromatosis, and for treatment of an enlarged prostate, also known as benign prostatic hyperplasia.