By Matthew Willett

Myriad Genetics Inc. generated approximately $22 million through a 175,000-share private placement agreement with Acqua Wellington North American Equities Fund Ltd.

The share price, about $126.25, represented a small negotiated discount to the company's market price. Myriad (NASDAQ:MYGN) closed Wednesday at $134.875, a $2.92 rise.

William Hockett, Myriad's director of corporate communications, said the company will use the proceeds for pipeline development acceleration.

"We've been very pleased to have the deal done," Hockett said. "It's going to allow us to accelerate our proteomics program and our pharmocogenetics program. That's an area we haven't talked about a lot, but we are developing it seriously here at Myriad."

He added that the company will use its genealogical and medical databases to personalize medications.

"We think we'll be able to use these databases to generate some very interesting data for ourselves and our pharmaceutical partners to personalize medication," he said. "The data are very deep in the cancer area, but also quite good in central nervous system disorders like depression and dementia."

With the addition of the 175,000 newly issued shares, Myriad Genetics has about 11.1 million shares outstanding with low dilution. Hockett said his is one of the least diluted companies in the sector; the company will announce a stock split next month that will double the shares outstanding.

He added that the financing brings Myriad's cash and cash equivalents to more than $100 million.

"There are other things going on that it may help us fund, but we have sufficient cash in the bank to really effectively execute our strategy," he said.

Myriad focuses on genetic testing and therapeutics development. Its BRACAnalysis and CardiaRisk diagnostics test for predisposition to breast cancer and cardiovascular disease, respectively.

Ten of Myriad's 19 drug development targets are licensed to industry players, including Novartis AG, of Basel, Switzerland; Pharmacia Corp., of Peapack, N.J.; Bayer AG, of Leverkusen, Germany; Eli Lilly and Co., of Indianapolis; Hoffmann-La Roche Inc., of Nutley, N.J.; Schering AG, of Frankfurt, Germany; and Schering-Plough Corp., of Madison, N.J.

The company said the collaborations potential value is $393 million, not counting royalties or profit sharing.

In drug discovery, the company focuses on cancer, AIDS and rheumatoid arthritis. Myriad has currently selected 110 proteins for evaluation using its ProNet system for analysis of protein interaction.

Of its unlicensed compounds, Myriad is closest to clinical trials with MPYS-847, a colorectal cancer therapeutic.

"We're very excited about it," Hockett said of the compound, now designated MPI-42511. "It's our most advanced compound at this time, and one that's shown itself to be effective in killing colon cancer cells in vitro. We're looking forward to getting it into the clinic. It's currently in preclinical tests in animal studies, and we think it'll take approximately one year to advance into the clinic." n

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