Acorda Therapeutics Inc. is the latest biotech company to line up in the initial public offering queue.

The Hawthorne, N.Y.-based business filed for a $75 million IPO, though it has yet to set a price range for its stock and establish the number of shares. Acorda, which plans to trade on the Nasdaq exchange under the ticker symbol "ACRD," said it would use proceeds for research and development, marketing and other general corporate purposes.

Its lead product, Fampridine-SR, is in a Phase III program for spinal cord injury. The company said findings show that fampridine, the active molecule of the orally available small molecule, improves impulse conduction in nerve fibers in which the myelin has been damaged.

In anticipation of its potential FDA approval, Acorda earlier this week entered a marketing agreement with Rxpedite, an alliance between inChord Communications Inc., of Columbus, Ohio, and Cardinal Health Inc., of Dublin, Ohio. Both will play a role in potential commercialization of the sustained-release drug, which also is in a Phase II multiple sclerosis program.

It is designed to treat a range of disorders affecting individuals with chronic spinal cord injury and multiple sclerosis, including spasticity, muscle weakness, loss of bowel and bladder control and sexual dysfunction. The company said it plans to file a new drug application in the spasticity indication next year.

Fampridine-SR also was part of a deal between Acorda and Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd., which received first negotiation rights to the drug. That transaction, reported last week, centered on Acorda's anticonvulsive drug, valrocemide. Jerusalem-based Teva gained co-development and co-promotion rights to the broad-spectrum small molecule. (See BioWorld Today, Sept. 25, 2003.)

Acorda, which plans to move valrocemide into late Phase II trials for epilepsy and early Phase II studies for bipolar disorder next year, made an initial payment to Teva upon execution of the agreement and is obligated to make further payments upon achieving certain milestones. It will conduct and pay for the next epilepsy clinical trial and a toxicology study for valrocemide, after which both parties will share in 50 percent of co-development expenses and co-development profits.

Deeper in its pipeline, Acorda is developing two preclinical products for the restoration of myelin in multiple sclerosis patients. From that portfolio, the company said glial growth factor-2 has been shown to stimulate remyelination in animal models of the disease and to have a variety of other effects in neural protection and repair. Its remyelinating antibody program includes monoclonal antibodies that have demonstrated the ability to stimulate repair of myelin in three different animal models.

Other preclinical programs include its chondroitinase therapeutic approach to repair the injured brain and spinal cord by targeting scar tissue that develops as a result of injury. Acorda also has a regenerative antibody program through which it is studying approaches to stimulate axon regeneration in central nervous system disorders.

Its research efforts during its 2003 fiscal year, which ended June 30, resulted in a net loss of $25.7 million. The 68-employee company, founded in March 1995 by Ron Cohen, its president and CEO, closed the 12-month period with $48.3 million in cash and cash equivalents.

Acorda's primary shareholders include the MPM/BB Bioventure group in Boston, which controls 13.3 percent of the company's shares. Other investors include the Elan group, an arm of Elan Corp. plc, of Dublin, Ireland, with 7.9 percent; Forward Ventures LP, of San Diego, with 7.1 percent; Easton Hunt Capital partners LP, of New York, with 5.8 percent; MDS/Neuroscience Partners Healthcare, of Toronto, with 5.5 percent; TVM Life Sciences, of Boston, with 5.3 percent; ABN Amro, of Amsterdam, the Netherlands, with 5.3 percent; J.P. Morgan, of New York, with 5.3 percent; Cross Atlantic Partners, of New York, with 5.3 percent; and Cohen, with 4 percent.

Banc of America Securities LLC is listed as the lead underwriter, with additional underwriting from Lazard Freres & Co. LLC and U.S. Bancorp Piper Jaffray, all of New York, as well as RBC Capital Markets in Toronto.

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