SYDNEY, Australia ¿ Circadian Technologies Ltd., of Melbourne, will spin off one of its companies, Antisense Therapeutics Ltd., and plans to raise up to A$13 million (US$6.73 million) in an initial public offering, with Antisense also forming an alliance with a U.S. company.

In the initial announcement of the float of Antisense, Circadian Managing Director Leon Serry stated that Antisense had agreed with Isis Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Carlsbad, Calif., to collaborate in discovering and developing antisense drugs.

As part of the deal, Isis will be handed 14 percent of the issued capital of Antisense plus another 20 million options (equivalent to around 23 percent of Antisense, if exercised) and will be entitled to royalties from drug discoveries.

In addition, the Australian company will be given the exclusive right to commercialize ISIS 107248 (under the new name ATL 1102), a candidate drug for multiple sclerosis, which is currently in the Isis development pipeline.

In return, the announcement said, Isis will give Antisense access to ¿Isis technology, intellectual property, know-how and resources¿ for antisense drug development.

When contacted by BioWorld International, Serry said that he could not comment beyond what was in the initial statement until the IPO prospectus had been released, due to the strict laws on the subject. Australian laws on promoting floats and making statements to investors about IPOs have been considerably tightened in recent years.

The statement notes that antisense drugs are small, synthetic genetic molecules designed to block the protein-producing activity of a target gene. They make direct use of human genomic information and are regarded as both predictable and rapid.

In addition to commercialization of the Isis drug, Antisense has a licensing and research agreement with the Murdoch Children¿s Research Institute based at the Royal Childrens Hospital in Melbourne. In exchange for both equity and royalties, Antisense will develop a skin disease treatment that was discovered at the institute. Antisense has a number of other projects in hand and will be given a number of lead compounds by Isis. If all goes according to plan, Antisense will be listed on the Australian Stock Exchange by March next year.

Circadian shares rose during the week to finish at A$2.71. Just before the announcement, the share price was A$2.18.

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