By Matthew Willett

Guilford Pharmaceuticals Inc. filed a shelf registration for 3.5 million shares, putting into place the foundation for a $77 million financing that could be used to commercialize the recently re-acquired Gliadel Wafer.

Guilford, of Baltimore, acquired commercial rights for Gliadel Wafer, the biopolymer product for treatment of recurrent primary malignant brain cancer, from Aventis Pharma, the pharmaceutical arm of Aventis SA, of Frankfurt, Germany, last month. (See BioWorld Today, Oct. 25, 2000.)

That deal gave Aventis 300,000 shares of Guilford, valued at the time at about $8 million. Aventis continues sales of Gliadel Wafer, which totaled $800,000 in the third quarter of this year, through the end of 2000.

Stacey Jurchison, Guilford's director of communications, said the company will use proceeds from the shelf registration to finance the commercialization of the Gliadel Wafer, a novel delivery chemotherapeutic that delivers BCNU (carmustine) directly to the site of a brain tumor.

The wafer, developed by Guilford and licensed to Aventis in 1997, was approved in 1997.

"The shelf registration, or the funds we'd hope to raise at some point in the future, would be directed toward funding our commercialization operations and establishing a marketing and sales force for our Gliadel Wafer," Jurchison told BioWorld Today. "It will also be used to support clinical research next year. We'll have three products in clinical development, and we'll be interested in accelerating the development of many of those products."

Founded in 1993, Baltimore-based Guilford focuses on polymer-based therapeutics for cancer and novel products for the treatment of neurological diseases including Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease, stroke, severe head trauma, spinal cord injuries, multiple sclerosis and peripheral neuropathies.

A planned merger with Gliatech Inc., of Cleveland, was stopped when regulatory officials questioned aspects of a pivotal trial for Gliatech's Adcon-L gel for treatment of postsurgical scarring and adhesions following lumbar surgery. (See BioWorld Today, Aug. 30, 2000.)

Jurchison said Guilford is interested mainly in commercializing its wafer, but that it could be interested in acquisition.

"We're focusing right now on establishing our sales and marketing infrastructure for the Gliadel Wafer, setting up the commercial operations to carry out the marketing of the Gliadel Wafer," she said. "We'll be looking in the future at either product or technology opportunities, either licensing or co-promoting."

Nine-month sales of the wafer were about $3.1 million, she said, down from about $5.2 million in the same period for 1999, a drop due largely to Aventis' focus on oncologics instead of neurosurgical products like the wafer.

Guilford's stock (NASDAQ:GLFD) closed Monday at $20.812, down $1.187.