AlphaMed Pharmaceuticals, a Largo, Fla., biotech intent on taking a chunk out of the plasma-derived drug business, is raising a $50 million third round, VentureWire reports (subscription required). The company is developing a form of alpha-1 antitrypsin, or ATT, that can be produced in yeast cells. Current forms of the drug, such as one sold by Talecris Biotherapeutics (see our coverage here), are derived from donated blood. Patients who lack the enzyme are prone to emphysema and other disorders.

From the VentureWire story:

Another AlphaMed competitor, Arriva Pharmaceuticals Inc., is developing a recombinant ATT product for hereditary emphysema. The two companies share a founder, John Lezdey, father of Jarrett. John founded Arriva in 1997 but left in 1999 after a dispute and founded AlphaMed. Arriva has since raised venture capital from MPM Capital, MedImmune Ventures, and others.

In a lawsuit beginning in 2003, AlphaMed claimed that Arriva misappropriated trade secrets, engaged in tortuous interference with AlphaMed’s business and unfair competition. A jury ruled in AlphaMed’s favor on all three counts, and AlphaMed was awarded $78 million in damages. The decision has since been appealed, according to Jarrett Lezdey. Arriva Chief Executive Susan Preston was not available for comment.

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