SYDNEY, Australia - VRI BioMedical Ltd. intends to raise A$7.5 million (US$3.8 million) in an initial public offering to commercialize a saliva test for overtraining in athletes, which sometimes can negatively affect their performance.

In addition, among other projects, the company is developing the same technology into an early warning test for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) in children under 2 years old.

Leon Ivory, CEO of Perth-based VRI, said that the company has 12 projects in various stages of development. Five of those involve probiotics (live bacteria administered in pharmaceutical form) and another two involved in therapeutic vaccines.

But the most advanced projects involve rapid diagnostic tests of various illnesses associated with the respiratory and intestine system, including overtraining in athletes for which, he said there are no direct competitors at present.

The technology relies on discoveries by researchers headed by Robert Clancy at the University of Newcastle in New South Wales and John Bienenstock, concerning the mechanism of control and communication between the different mucosal surfaces in the body, such as the gut, the respiratory tract and the reproductive system.

As noted in VRI's IPO documentation, the researchers showed that communication between the different mucosal surfaces was mediated by lympocytes generated in lymphoid structures, called Peyer's patches, located in the wall of the small intestine.

The test for overtraining being developed by VRI looks for changes in the concentrations for certain immunogoblin (IgA) in saliva, while the test for SIDS is keyed to a change in IgA in saliva linked to minor respiratory illnesses in young children. Research at the University of Newcastle, Ivory said, has linked respiratory illness to SIDS and to a change in IgA levels, which occurs two to three weeks before death.

As the SIDS and overtraining tests are diagnostic tests rather than pharmaceuticals, Ivory hopes that they will be in commercial use within a short time, perhaps late next year for the overtraining test.

The A$7.5 million being raised in the IPO represents about 20 percent of the company and will pay for three year of VRI research.