With hopes of raising $86.25 million to advance two cancer drugs and a preclinical candidate for heart failure, Cytokinetics Inc. filed for its initial public offering.

The South San Francisco-based company, which was founded in 1998, would use proceeds from the IPO to fund the development of its cancer drugs SB-715992 and SB-743921 and to move into Phase I a drug to treat acute congestive heart failure. Funds also would be used to advance other research programs, scale-up the company's development, sales, marketing and manufacturing operations and to in-license technology, as well as to acquire or invest in complementary businesses, products or technology.

Robert Blum, the company's senior vice president of finance and corporate development and chief financial officer, said the company could not comment due to an SEC-imposed quiet period.

According to the company's SEC filing, it estimated an offering of $86.25 million in the IPO. It has not yet disclosed the number of shares to be offered or the share price. Goldman, Sachs & Co., of New York, is expected to serve as lead manager of the offering, which would be co-managed by Credit Suisse First Boston, also of New York; San Francisco-based Pacific Growth Equities LLC; and New York-based Lazard Freres & Co. LLC. The company intends to list its stock on the Nasdaq National Market under the ticker symbol "CYTK."

Cytokinetics raised $40 million in its fifth round of financing last April. The amount was expected to sustain the company through 2005, Blum said at the time. (See BioWorld Today, April 29, 2003.)

The company is focused on cytoskeletal drug discovery and development in the areas of oncology, cardiovascular disease and antifungal drugs. The cytoskeleton plays a role in the cell-proliferation process and in cardiac muscle contraction, the company said. Although a number of cancer drugs inhibit cell proliferation, they also interrupt cytoskeletal functions unrelated to cell proliferation, limiting their clinical benefit and resulting in toxicities. Commonly used heart failure drugs indirectly modulate cytoskeletal function and have limited therapeutic value because of side effects, the company said.

Cytokinetics' lead cancer drug, SB-715992, entered a Phase II trial in late 2003 to treat non-small-cell lung cancer and is expected to enter multiple Phase II trials in other solid and hematologic cancers throughout the year. SB-715992 is a small-molecule drug that inhibits cell proliferation and promotes cancer cell death by disrupting the function of a cytoskeletal protein knows as kinesin spindle protein (KSP). The drug is developed by GlaxoSmithKline plc, of London, through a strategic alliance with Cytokinetics. The companies are expected to begin a number of Phase II monotherapy trials and Phase Ib combination therapy trials throughout 2004.

Cytokinetics' second cancer product, SB-743921, should enter Phase I trials early this year. The drug also inhibits KSP and is being developed by GSK.

Cytokinetics entered into the strategic alliance with GSK in June 2001. GSK made a $14 million up-front cash payment and an initial $14 million equity investment in the company as part of the agreement. (See BioWorld Today, June 26, 2001.)

Aside from developing the cancer drugs, the company expects to file an investigational new drug application for a drug candidate to treat acute congestive heart failure in the second half of this year. The drug targets cardiac myosin, a cytoskeletal protein essential for cardiac muscle contraction.