By Kim Coghill

Washington Editor

Cell Therapeutics Inc. grossed $136.8 million through the sale of 3.6 million shares of common stock at $38 per share.

The total includes the exercise of the overallotment option by co-managers CIBC World Markets Corp., of New York, and U.S. Bancorp Piper Jaffray, of Minneapolis. Seattle-based Cell Therapeutics (CTI) now has 29.9 million shares outstanding. The company had approximately $42 million in cash at the end of the second quarter.

"Proceeds will be used to support the planned launch of Trisenox (arsenic trioxide), the advancement of PG-TXL, the end licensing and acquisition of additional drug candidates and for general corporate purposes," said James Bianco, CTI president and CEO.

The company's stock (NASDAQ:CTIC) gained $5 Thursday, or nearly 13 percent, to close at $44.25.

CTI develops oncology products. In March, the company filed a new drug application for arsenic trioxide, seeking approval for the treatment of patients with relapsed or refractory acute promyelocytic leukemia. The drug has fast-track status, and the company anticipates approval in the near term. (See BioWorld Today, March 30, 2000, p. 1.)

In the pivotal trial, data showed arsenic trioxide induced a high rate of complete remission among patients suffering from acute promyelocytic leukemia who had relapsed after prior therapy.

"The most common side effects were fever, weight gain and asymptomatic EKG changes, which were managed with steroids," Bianco said.

The company gained the rights to arsenic trioxide through its acquisition of New York-based PolaRx Biopharmaceuticals Inc. The product has been granted orphan drug status as a treatment for myelodysplastic syndromes, diseases in which the bone marrow does not function normally and not enough normal blood cells are made. It also has orphan status for multiple myeloma.

CTI also is conducting clinical trials with PG-TXL, a derivative of paclitaxel, the active ingredient of the well-known cancer drug Taxol; and Apra (CT-2584), a drug candidate for patients with cancers such as soft tissue sarcoma and prostate cancer who have become resistant to conventional chemotherapy.

Company officials say PG-TXL is progressing well in Phase I trials and it is expected to enter Phase II trials during the fourth quarter.

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