By Brady Huggett

ZymoGenetics Inc. filed for its initial public offering, readying itself to take on a market that has seen more IPO withdrawals than successes as of late, but this company has experience that most who seek IPO success lack.

¿We are going to follow through with the standard SEC review process,¿ Charles Hart, senior director of corporate communications at ZymoGenetics, told BioWorld Today. ¿We¿ve positioned ourselves to take advantage of the capital markets as conditions permit.¿

Company officials would not comment further due to SEC-imposed quiet-period rules.

Co-managers of the offering are Bear Stearns & Co. Inc., of New York, and Pacific Growth Equities Inc., of San Francisco. Book-running managers are Lehman Brothers Inc. and Merrill Lynch & Co., both of New York.

In its prospectus, in order to calculate offering expenses, ZymoGenetics estimated its take to be $180 million. At that price, it would easily give Seattle-based ZymoGenetics the largest IPO this year, according to BioWorld Snapshots.

Since January, and in a receding market, the biotechnology sector has seen only three U.S.-based companies successfully complete initial public offerings: Exact Sciences Corp., of Maynard Mass. ($56 million); Third Wave Technologies Inc., of Madison, Wis. ($82.5 million); and Seattle Genetics Inc., of Bothell, Wash. ($49 million).

ZymoGenetics was established in 1981, but became a wholly owned subsidiary of Novo Nordisk A/S, of Bagsvaerd, Denmark, in 1988. For the next 12 years, ZymoGenetics operated as a protein discovery arm in North America for Novo, and the parent dropped about $450 million into ZymoGenetics. In November 2000, ZymoGenetics was spun back out through a $150 million private placement, with Novo¿s ownership falling to 62 percent of outstanding capital stock and less than 50 percent of outstanding voting stock. (See BioWorld Today, Oct. 24, 2000.)

About a week ago, ZymoGenetics signed to collaborate with Serono SA, of Geneva, to develop and commercialize two preclinical product candidates, discovered by ZymoGenetics. The companies did not disclose specific indications, but preclinical work has shown the candidates may be applicable in several autoimmune diseases, including systemic lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and myasthenia gravis. The deal could be worth as much as $52.5 million to ZymoGenetics. (See BioWorld Today, Sept. 5, 2001.)

Just days before ZymoGenetics underwent the $150 million placement and subsequent spinout in 2000, the company signed with Medarex Inc., of Princeton, N.J., to develop fully human antibody therapeutics. (See BioWorld Today, Oct. 20, 2000.)

Through its 20-year history, ZymoGenetics has accrued one of the largest intellectual property collections in the world in the area of protein therapeutics. Products sold on the market today that stem from ZymoGenetics discovery include Novolin (human insulin), NovoSeven (a product used to control bleeding in hemophiliacs), and Glucagon (for severe hypoglycemia and a diagnostic aid).