National Editor

Making another run at an initial public offering, Dynavax Technologies Corp. said it aims to raise up to $90 million and trade on Nasdaq under the symbol "DVAX."

William Dawson, chief financial officer, said the Berkeley, Calif.-based company was in a quiet period as required by the SEC.

Dynavax, which had about 17.6 million shares outstanding as of Sept. 30 and $17.5 million in cash, is working on several product candidates based on its immunostimulatory sequences, called ISS - short DNA sequences intended to "reprogram" the response of the immune system to pathogens, Dynavax said in its prospectus.

ISS works only on the cells involved in specific disease pathways, Dynavax said, thus neither altering the system's ability to mount an appropriate response to other infecting pathogens nor causing a generalized activation of the immune system, which could give rise to an autoimmune response.

What's more, allied with allergens or antigens, ISS establishes "memory" cells, letting the system deal with pathogens or allergens longer term.

The company's ISS-based drug known as AIC for ragweed allergy is expected to begin a two-year Phase III trial in the first quarter. In prophylaxis of hepatitis B, the company has two Phase II trials near completion and plans to start Phase III trials outside the U.S. next year for its HBV vaccine, with an aim of commercializing it only there. An inhaled therapeutic for asthma is being tested in a pilot Phase II trial.

Farther back, Dynavax has an ISS-based cancer drug in Phase I trials, plus preclinical programs targeting more allergies and viruses, as well as next-generation vaccines. The company also has a program using a novel class of small-molecule compounds called thiazolopyrimidines for certain chronic inflammatory diseases.

Dynavax had filed for an initial public offering in December 2000, intending to raise $75 million, but withdrew it in April 2001.

It recently received $8.4 million in three grants from the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md., for the development of infectious disease products based on its ISS technology. About a year after its pulled IPO in 2001, the company raised $34.8 million in a Series D round, and said it would use the money primarily for its ragweed allergy immunotherapy. (See BioWorld Today, April 26, 2002.)