West Coast Editor

Cerus Corp. priced its public offering of 4.5 million shares at $8.75 per share for proceeds of about $39.4 million, and the company expects to net about $36.9 million after expenses, or $42.5 million if the underwriters exercise their option to buy 675,000 more shares.

The company’s shares (NASDAQ:CERS) closed Thursday at $8.75, down 46 cents.

A spokeswoman for Concord, Calif.-based Cerus said the proceeds would finance research and development, and would be "evenly balanced" among projects, but had no further comment.

Near the start of the year, the firm submitted an investigational new drug application to begin Phase I trials with CRS-100, a Listeria-based immunotherapeutic for cancer metastasized to the liver. Two other cancer vaccines are in preclinical development.

Also in immunotherapy, Cerus has its Killed But Metabolically Active, or KBMA, technology platform in research and development of prophylactic and therapeutic vaccines for infectious diseases, including hepatitis C. Two prophylactic KBMA vaccine product candidates are in the early stages of development, one against anthrax and the other against tularemia. Both programs have gained funding from the National Institutes of Health, under national bioterrorism initiatives.

In blood safety, Cerus is developing and commercializing the Intercept Blood System for platelets, plasma and red blood cells.

The company owns worldwide commercialization rights, excluding certain countries in Asia in which rights to the platelets and plasma systems belong to BioOne Corp., of Tokyo.

The blood system was developed in collaboration with Deerfield, Ill.-based Baxter International Inc., and Cerus has prioritized getting Intercept for platelets and plasma on the market in Europe ahead of the U.S., though the company is talking with the FDA about a regulatory pathway.

Robert W. Baird & Co. Inc., of Chicago, is acting as book-running and co-lead manager of the offering and JMP Securities LLC, of New York, is serving as co-lead manager.

In other financing news:

• Angiotech Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Vancouver, British Columbia, priced the offering of $250 million in aggregate principal amount of 7.75 percent senior convertible notes due 2014. The offering is being made as a private placement, and net proceeds will be used in part to fund the company’s acquisition of Lake Forest, Ill.-based American Medical Instruments Holdings Inc., expected to close in late March.

• Elite Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Northvale, N.J., completed a private placement of $10 million to a group of institutional and other private investors through the issuance of 10,000 shares of its Series B preferred stock at a price of $1,000 per share, with each initially convertible at $2.25 into 444.4 shares of common stock, or an aggregate of about 4.4 million shares of common stock. Each buyer of the preferred stock also gets two common stock purchase warrants, one exercisable for 5 years and representing the right to buy about 1.1 million shares of common stock at $2.75 per share and the second exercisable under the same terms but at a common-stock price of $3.25. Indigo Securities LLC, of New York, placed the offering. Elite’s stock (AMEX:ELI) closed Thursday at $2.27, up 2 cents.

• Insmed Inc., of Richmond, Va., said underwriters of its previously announced public offering - 20 million shares at $2 each, netting $37.2 million - have exercised in full the option to buy 3 million more shares of stock at that price, for another $6 million. (See BioWorld Today, March 13, 2006.)

• Nanogen Inc., of San Diego, said Fisher Scientific International Inc., of Hampton, N.H., agreed to buy about 5.7 million shares of Nanogen common stock at $2.65 per share. Fisher is a leading provider of products and services to the scientific and clinical laboratory markets. Nanogen will use the proceeds from the sale for working capital, acquisitions and other general corporate purposes. The investment in Nanogen coincides with Fisher’s purchase of Athena Diagnostics Inc., of Worcester, Mass., which is focused on molecular diagnostic and immunodiagnostic tests and services. Nanogen and Fisher will collaborate to expand the use of Athena’s proprietary markers and diagnostic assays. Nanogen’s stock (NASDAQ:NGEN) jumped 37 cents, or 14.7 percent, to close at $2.89.

• RegeneRx Biopharmaceuticals Inc., of Bethesda, Md., closed its previously announced registered direct offering, selling about 2.6 million shares of common stock at $2.81 per share for aggregate gross proceeds of $7.3 million. Participants in the financing included several new institutional investors, as well as existing investors, and affiliates of Rome-based Sigma-Tau Group, the company’s largest stockholder. The shares were offered through a prospectus supplement pursuant to the company’s shelf registration, and warrants to buy 907,182 shares of common stock also were issued to the investors. The warrants bear an exercise price of $4.06 per share. RBC Capital Markets Corp., of New York, acted as sole placement agent. RegeneRx’s stock (AMEX:RGN) closed Thursday at $3.18, down 12 cents.

• Titan Pharmaceuticals Inc., of South San Francisco, obtained commitments to purchase about 3.1 million shares of common stock at $3.25 per share for gross proceeds of about $10 million from institutional investors. Closing is expected March 20, and New York-based Rodman & Renshaw acted as placement agent. Titan’s shares (AMEX:TTP) closed Thursday at $3.63, down 70 cents, or 16.2 percent.