By Matthew Willett

DNA Sciences Inc. filed for a $125 million initial public offering of an undisclosed number of shares at a price to be named later for proceeds to fund its operations.

The Fremont, Calif.-based firm is a genetics discovery company focused on identifying the genetic basis of disease susceptibility, disease progression and response to drug treatment.

Its focus is on developing diagnostics and therapeutics for diseases with a strong genetic component such as cancer, asthma, inflammatory bowel disease, osteoporosis and diabetes. In its prospectus DNA Sciences said it is, to its knowledge, the only company that focuses on partially penetrant gene variants, hard-to-find genetic variations that may or may not cause disease in those who have them.

In December, DNA Sciences acquired PPGx Inc., of La Jolla, Calif., a genetics discovery services provider for pharmaceutical companies, with a focus on gene variants that influence drug metabolism.

PPGx began as a joint venture between DNA Sciences and Axys Pharmaceuticals Inc., of South San Francisco. The deal, financial terms of which were undisclosed, was for DNA Sciences stock. (See BioWorld Today, Dec. 19, 2000.)

As of Sept. 30, DNA Sciences - formerly called Kiva Genetics Inc. - said it had $40.9 million in cash and cash equivalents. Its filing did not list the number of shares to be outstanding after the offering.

The IPO is being underwritten by Lehman Brothers Inc., of New York; CIBC World Markets Corp., of New York; and Dain Rauscher Inc., of Minneapolis.

The company is involved in collaborations with the University of Utah for access to the university's Utah population database and with Amersham Pharmacia Biotech Inc. to develop DNA Science's microchannel plate technology for use in DNA sequencing and genotyping studies. The Amersham deal called for a license fee payment to DNA Sciences of $7.5 million and up to $6.3 million in research funding.