West Coast Editor

Proving its financial mettle even without the hoped-for larger alfimeprase deal with Amgen Inc., Nuvelo Inc. priced an offering of 8.5 million shares at $7.50 each to pull down $63.75 million.

The company's stock (NASDAQ:NUVO) closed Wednesday at $8.28, up 29 cents.

Still in a quiet period per SEC rules, Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Nuvelo said in a prospectus related to the offering that net proceeds will total about $59.3 million, or about $68.3 million if the underwriters exercise in full their overallotment option of about 1.3 million shares. The money will be used for general purposes including trials with Nuvelo's lead product candidate, the clot-dissolver alfimeprase.

That compound recently finished a pair of Phase II trials in acute peripheral arterial occlusion (PAO) and catheter occlusion. Late last year, Thousand Oaks, Calif.-based Amgen opted for a license arrangement rather than an equal partnership with Nuvelo. (See BioWorld Today, Nov. 3, 2004.)

Amgen discovered alfimeprase, a derivative of the fibrolase enzyme. Acute PAO, also known as "leg attack," afflicts more than 100,000 people in the U.S. every year and involves the blockage of arterial blood flow to the lower limbs by a clot. Under the terms of the deal signed in 2002 with Nuvelo, Amgen exercised its option in November to take a licensing arrangement with milestone payments and royalties rather than split expenses and profits and has decided to go that route. (See BioWorld Today, Jan. 10, 2002, and Nov. 3, 2004.)

Nuvelo expects to start a Phase III trial with the drug in acute PAO in the first half of this year, and another Phase III trial in patients with occluded central venous catheters in the second half of the year.

Also in the pipeline is recombinant nematode anticoagulant protein c2 (rNAPc2), bought from Seattle-based Dendreon Corp. for a $4 million up-front payment, plus milestones and royalties. The product is in a Phase IIa trial for use in treating acute coronary syndromes including unstable angina and non-ST segment elevation myocardial infarction, with enrollment expected to complete in the first half of this year. (See BioWorld Today, Feb. 6, 2004.)

In 2004, Nuvelo entered a worldwide collaboration with Archemix Corp., of Cambridge, Mass., to develop and commercialize ARC183, a thrombin inhibitor for use in coronary artery bypass graft and percutaneous coronary intervention. The drug, a DNA aptamer, entered Phase I trials in August, expected to finish in the first half of this year.

As of Sept. 30 - the most recently reported period - Nuvelo had about $70.6 million in cash, cash equivalents and short-term investments.

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