Two more biotech companies registered for their initial public offerings on the Nasdaq market - Alnylam Pharmaceuticals Inc. and Acadia Pharmaceuticals Inc.

Both filed for $86.25 million IPOs. The amount of shares and the price range have not been disclosed.

Cambridge, Mass.-based Alnylam proposed the symbol "ALNY" for its common stock, while San Diego-based Acadia intends to be listed as "ACAD."

Since the start of the year, five biotech companies have priced their IPOs, following nine that went public late last year. Entering the public market in 2004 were Eyetech Pharmaceuticals Inc., of New York; GTx Inc., of Memphis, Tenn.; Renovis Inc., of South San Francisco; Corgentech Inc., also of South San Francisco; and Dynavax Technologies Corp., of Berkeley, Calif.

Alnylam Looking To Further RNAi Therapeutics

Alnylam, which is working to develop therapeutics based on RNA interference (RNAi), said it would use funds to further develop its capabilities in the relatively new field and select product candidates. The 58-employee company would use such funding for preclinical and clinical development, as well as for the acquisition, licensing and protection of other intellectual property rights and for working capital, capital expenditures and other general corporate purposes.

Its RNAi therapeutics program initially is focused on developing products that will be administered directly to sites of disease, called Direct RNAi therapeutics, which are directed to age-related macular degeneration and Parkinson's disease. Alnylam expects to begin a clinical trial of its lead macular degeneration product candidate next year.

The company also is working to develop RNAi therapeutics that travel through the bloodstream to reach sites of disease, called Systemic RNAi therapeutics, which can be used to treat a range of diseases.

Last summer, the company raised $24.6 million in a private financing concurrent with a merger with Ribopharma AG, of Kulmbach, Germany. At the time, the combined company reported more than $40 million in cash. (See BioWorld Today, July 8, 2003.)

Soon after, Alnylam entered a collaboration with Merck & Co. Inc. to develop RNAi-based therapeutics and technology. Whitehouse Station, N.J.-based Merck is providing validated drug targets, against which Alnylam is developing RNAi compounds and working to advance them through preclinical development. Merck made an up-front payment and was due to make annual cash payments to Alnylam, in which it also made an equity investment. (See BioWorld Today, Sept. 10, 2003.)

Alnylam's principal institutional stockholders include Polaris Venture Partners III, with about 4.8 million shares; Abingworth BioVentures III A, with 4 million shares; CHP II LP, with 3.5 million shares; Arch Venture Fund V LP, with 3.4 million shares; and Atlas Venture Fund V, also with 3.4 percent.

Banc of America Securities LLC is listed as the IPO's sole bookrunner and lead manager, with co-management from Piper Jaffray & Co., Citigroup Global Markets Inc. and ThinkEquity Partners LLC.

Acadia Seeking Funding For Small-Molecule Drugs

Acadia said it would use the majority of proceeds raised in its offering to fund research and development activities, including clinical trials within its three internal development programs, research expenses and preclinical development expenses. The 99-employee company, which is developing small-molecule drugs for central nervous system disorders, said it would apply the remaining balance for working capital and general corporate purposes.

Acadia discovered all its drug candidates in-house.

Its pipeline features three clinical programs, including ACP-103 in Phase II trials for treatment-induced dysfunction in Parkinson's disease. The other programs, ACP-104 and ACP-103, are both for schizophrenia and are expected to enter Phase II studies later this year. Acadia has worldwide commercialization rights to all three drug candidates. Its two preclinical programs are focused on neuropathic pain and glaucoma in collaboration with Allergan Inc., of Irvine, Calif.

Other partners include Amgen Inc., of Thousand Oaks, Calif., and Aventis SA, of Strasbourg, France. About a year ago, Acadia raised $25 million in a private placement, enough to give it three years of funding. (See BioWorld Today, March 31, 2003.)

The IPO road is not new to Acadia, which first filed in December 2000 for a proposed $75 million offering, before withdrawing its registration in the fall of 2001. (See BioWorld Today, Dec. 27, 2000.)

Acadia's chief institutional stockholders include Oxford Bioscience Partners IV, with 20.4 percent; Lonmodtagernes Dyrtidsfond, with 9.9 percent; OrbiMed Advisors LLC, with 7.8 percent; Dansk Kapitalanlaeg Aktieselskab, with 7.6 percent; Kommunernes Pensionsforsikring A/S, with 6.2 percent; Federated Kaufmann Fund, with 6 percent; ABN AMRO Ventures BV, with 5.8 percent; and Hambrecht & Quist Capital Management LLC, with 5.4 percent.

Primary individual shareholders include Mark Brann, with 6.6 percent, and Uli Hacksell, with 3.5 percent. Brann, the company's founder, also serves as its president and chief scientific officer. Hacksell is Acadia's CEO. Both sit on the board.

The IPO's lead underwriters include Banc of America and Piper Jaffray. Other underwriters include JMP Securities LLC and Wachovia Capital Markets LLC.