Preparing to enter Phase III trials with Litx, its drug/device combination product to treat cancer, Light Sciences Oncology (Snoqualmie, Washington), filed for an initial public offering (IPO) to bring in an estimated $86.25 million, though the number of shares and share price have not yet been determined.

Proceeds from the offering would be used to fund research and clinical activities, capital expenditures, working capital and general corporate purposes. If completed, the company would gain a listing on Nasdaq under the ticker symbol LSON.

Originally incorporated as part of Light Sciences Corp. in December 2004, Light Sciences Oncology was spun out from its parent company last fall to develop the Light Infusion Therapy (Litx) specifically to treat cancer.

Litx was developed by Light Sciences, which retains rights to the product in ophthalmology and cardiovascular disease.

A combination drug/device product, Litx comprises a flexible light-emitting diode array and LS11 (talaporfin sodium), a light-activated cancer drug that has been approved in Japan to treat early stage bronchopulmonary cancer.

In trials involving patients with solid tumors, the Litx diode is inserted into the tumor through the skin during an outpatient procedure. Then patients are given an injection of LS11, and the diode is turned on, emitting light for about two and a half hours to activate the drug inside the tumor, causing it to target surrounding tissue and to shut down the tumor's blood supply.

The company's goal is to allow cancer patients to undergo treatment as though for a chronic disease, since patients can receive repeated treatments with Litx without experiencing the toxic side effects typically arising from chemotherapy.

A Phase III trial of Litx in hepatocellular cancer involving about 200 patients is expected to begin this quarter, with Phase III trials in metastatic colorectal cancer and glioma set to start enrolling patients during the second half of this year.

Light Sciences Oncology previously raised money to fund those trials, bringing in a total of $67 million in its Series A financing. The company brought in $35 million in October and added $32 million in a second closing in December.

The company's largest shareholder is Craig Watjen, a co-founder and angel investor of former parent company Life Sciences, owning 43.6% of the oncology-focused firm. Other shareholders include Light Sciences Corp., which holds 36.7%; Essex Woodlands Health Ventures, 18.9%; Scandinavian Life Science Venture, 11%; Novo A/S, 9.4%; and New Science Ventures, 5.8%.

Underwriters for the proposed IPO include Cowen & Co., Wachovia Securities, Jefferies & Co. and Thomas Weisel Partners.

In other financing news:

• OptiMedica (Santa Clara, California), a developer of ophthalmic therapeutic devices, said it has raised $13.8 million in capital through a Series A and B financing co-led by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Alloy Ventures.

“OptiMedica is committed to evolving the standards of care in ophthalmology,“ said David Mordaunt, CEO of OptiMedica. “This financing allows us to roll-out technologies to support our mission, while we continue to build our world-class organization centered around our customers – the physician and ultimately the patient.“

OptiMedica, founded in 2004, develops medical devices that treat ophthalmic disorders such as diabetic retinopathy, age-related macular degeneration, retinal vascular occlusive disease and retinal tears and detachments. It holds the exclusive license to the PASCAL (PAttern SCAn Laser) method of photocoagulation and its associated technologies, which are FDA approved to treat a variety of retinal conditions.

• Cytori Therapeutics (San Diego) reported that it has received a $1.5 million payment for the option it granted to Olympus (Tokyo) in February for the exclusive right to negotiate an adipose-derived stem and regenerative cell commercialization collaboration (Medical Device Daily, Feb. 27, 2006).

The collaboration would include distribution rights to the Celution system and related one-time use cartridges for a specific therapeutic area outside of cardiovascular disease.

As part of the agreement signed in February, Olympus will conduct market research and pilot clinical studies in collaboration with Cytori over a 12 to 18 month period for the therapeutic area. The studies will be performed using the Celution system, which received the CE mark in January.

The system is designed to automate the process and methods developed by Cytori scientists to isolate and concentrate a high yield of autologous stem and regenerative cells without the need for cell culture (repeated cell divisions). The system can process whole adipose tissue into isolated and concentrated stem and regenerative cells from start to finish in about one hour.

Cytori is developing cell-based therapeutics utilizing adult stem and regenerative cells derived from adipose tissue. The company's investigational therapies target cardiovascular disease, spine and orthopedic conditions, gastrointestinal disorders and new approaches for aesthetic and reconstructive surgery.