By Alan Sverdlik

Having concluded Phase III trials for its Intercept Platelet System, Cerus Corp. has registered to sell up to $300 million of common stock and debt in a future shelf offering.

Concord, Calif.-based Cerus¿ Intercept Blood Systems, which include several medical systems that are designed to prevent replication of viruses, bacteria and other pathogens, rely on the firm¿s Helinx technology. One of the most advanced of those systems, Intercept Platelet Systems, recently completed Phase III trials, while the company¿s plasma system is still in the Phase III stage. Phase III trials for red blood cells are getting under way.

Company officials told BioWorld Today the company is in its SEC-required quiet period, and could not comment on the registration. Cerus had 15.6 million shares outstanding at the end of June and a cash position of $147 million, company officials said. In the quarter ending June 30, it had lost $1.60 per share. CEO Stephen Isaacs has said Cerus has enough operating cash to last through 2004. (See BioWorld Today, May 18, 2001.)

The firm¿s platelet system has also finished Phase III trials in Europe, and is under regulatory review there. Cerus has filed for a CE Mark, and expects approval late this year or early next.

The process in the U.S. is about six months behind Europe, she said.

Beyond enhancing the safety of blood products used in transfusions, Cerus is also pursuing therapeutic applications for Helinx to treat and prevent serious diseases. Several products being researched and developed in collaboration with Tokyo-based Kirin Brewery Co. are designed to improve the outcome of stem cell transplant therapy, a cancer treatment, through the use of white blood cells that have been treated with Helinx. The products are aimed at treating conditions such as leukemia and lymphoma.

Cerus also is trying to develop a vaccine for the Epstein-Barr virus, which causes mononucleosis, for patients who are underoing organ transplants. Phase I trials are expected to begin this year, the company said.

Cerus stock (NASDAQ:CERS) closed down 57 cents Monday, at $62.43.