MediciNova Inc., a publicly traded San Diego biopharmaceutical company, is entering into a multimillion-dollar common stock purchase agreement with Chicago-based institutional investor Aspire Capital Fund LLC.

Aspire Capital has committed to purchase up to $20 million of MediciNova’s common stock during the next two years at prices based on the market price at the time of each sale. Traded on Nasdaq under the symbol MNOV, MediciNova will control the timing and amount of any sales of common stock to Aspire Capital and will determine the sales price before directing Aspire to purchase shares.

Mark Johnson, director of investor relations and corporate development for MediciNova, said the agreement is the culmination of nearly two years of meetings between the companies during which time Aspire became comfortable enough with MediciNova’s pipeline and management team to make an investment and provide access to capital.

“We have followed MediciNova and its MN-221 and MN-166 programs very closely over the past year,” said Steven G. Martin, managing member of Aspire Capital, in a statement. “We believe MediciNova has a promising pipeline, valuable strategic alliances and an experienced management team and we are very excited about this investment opportunity.”

For the quarter ended June 30, MediciNova reported a net loss of $2.3 million, or 14 cents per share, compared with a net loss of $4.7 million, or 31 cents per share, for the same period last year. At June 30, the company had $7.3 million in cash and cash equivalents, compared with $15.1 million of cash and cash equivalents at Dec. 31.

Of its two lead programs, MediciNova is farther along in advancing its MN-221, a treatment being developed for acute asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. An End-of-Phase 2 meeting scheduled with the Food and Drug Administration for Oct. 22 is raising MediciNova’s hopes of getting the green light to advance MN-221 to Phase 3.

Yuichi Iwaki, president and CEO of MediciNova, said proceeds from the Aspire agreement could help support a Phase 3 trial, affording the company the opportunity to raise money at a comfortable level.

“This would allow us to extend the runway before making a strategic partnership or additional investment to cover this trial,” Iwaki said. “We don’t need to rush to the street to raise the money.”

MediciNova is also seeking grant funding to advance MN-166, a treatment being developed for progressive multiple sclerosis, drug addiction and chronic pain, through Phase 2 trials. In particular, MediciNova is pursuing funding from the National Institutes of Health through the National Institute on Drug Abuse to further studies into MN-166’s application for opiod withdrawal and methamphetamine addiction at Columbia University and UCLA.