Preparing to enter Phase III trials with Litx, its drug/device combination product to treat cancer, Light Sciences Oncology Inc. filed for an initial public offering 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 Corp., 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, based in Snoqualmie, Wash., brought in $35 million in October and added $32 million in a second closing in December. (See BioWorld Today, Oct. 13, 2005, and Dec. 15, 2005.)
The company's largest shareholder is Craig Watjen, a co-founder and angel investor of former parent company Life Sciences Corp., owning 43.6 percent of the oncology-focused firm. Other shareholders include Light Sciences Corp., which holds 36.7 percent; Essex Woodlands Health Ventures, of Palo Alto, Calif., with 18.9 percent; Scandinavian Life Science Venture, of Stockholm, Sweden, with 11 percent; Novo A/S, of Bagsvaerd, Denmark, with 9.4 percent; and New Science Ventures LLC, of New York, with 5.8 percent of the company.
Underwriters for the proposed IPO include New York firms Cowen & Co. and Wachovia Securities, and San Francisco firms Jefferies & Co. and Thomas Weisel Partners LLC.
In other financings news:
• Cell Therapeutics Inc., of Seattle, is bringing in about $33.2 million through an underwritten public offering of its 7.5 percent convertible senior notes due 2011. CTI also granted the underwriter a 30-day option to purchase up to an additional $5 million of notes to cover overallotments. Net proceeds are expected to total about $31.2 million ($36 million with overallotments), and will be used to support the filing of new drug applications, preclinical and clinical trials, research and development and general working capital. The offering is expected to close on or about April 27. Shares of Cell Therapeutics (NASDAQ:CTIC) closed at $1.82 Tuesday, down 1 cent.
• NeoRx Corp., of Seattle, said it received all shareholder approvals required to proceed with its previously announced $65 million financing, expected to close on or before today. Through a private placement, the company is issuing 92.9 million shares of common stock at 70 cents each, plus five-year warrants to purchase 25.4 million additional shares at 77 cents each. Proceeds will be used to fund Phase III development of picoplatin, a next-generation intravenous platinum chemotherapeutic agent aimed at improving the safety and efficacy of existing platinum cancer drugs. Funds also will be used to pay some of the company's outstanding debt. Shares of NeoRx (NASDAQ:NERX) closed at $1.28 Tuesday, up 8 cents. (See BioWorld Today, Feb. 3, 2006.)
• Protez Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Malvern, Pa., closed an additional $6 million in Series B funding from Easton Capital Investment Group and existing Protez investors to advance its lead compound, PZ-601, and move forward on other research programs. The company's Series B funding, which brought in $15 million in August, now totals $21 million. In other news, Protez said it is awaiting approval to begin a Phase I study of PZ-601, an antibiotic compound aimed at treating drug-resistant and other infections. (See BioWorld Today, Aug. 25, 2005.)