By Karen Pihl-Carey

Raising C$30 million (US$20.3 million), Chromos Molecular Systems Inc. went public in Canada with the issuance of 3.75 million common shares.

The money will help the Burnaby, British Columbia-based company accelerate the development of its artificial chromosome expression system (ACes).

Chromos sold the shares at a price of C$8 (US$5.40) each. It also has granted the underwriters an overallotment option to buy up to an additional 562,500 common shares at the same price for up to 60 days following the closing of the offering. If exercised in full, the company will raise total gross proceeds of C$34.5 million (US$23.3 million).

Yorkton Securities Inc., of Toronto, led the offering, which included Goepel McDermid Securities Inc., of Vancouver, and BMO Nesbitt Burns Inc., of Toronto. Chromos' common shares will trade on the Toronto Stock Exchange under the symbol CHR. The stock closed Monday at C$8.30.

As of March 31, Chromos had cash, cash equivalents and short-term investments of $3.05 million. Following the offering, Chromos has about 12.14 million common shares outstanding.

Chromos is developing and marketing ACes, which may be used to produce therapeutic proteins in cellular and transgenic production systems and for gene therapy. It has an advantage over existing cellular production technology in that it has long-term, stable production of complex proteins that are difficult or impossible to produce. It can efficiently engineer and develop the optimal production cell lines, the company said. ACes also has the potential to generate transgenic founder herds that produce high levels of complex proteins in their milk.

Unlike natural chromosomes, ACes contains only the genes required for the expression of the desired therapeutic protein.

Chromos has a business strategy to form partnerships either to license the ACes technology for the development of protein product candidates, or to in-license therapeutic gene targets for the development of the company's own protein product candidates.

Its collaborative partners include Boehringer Ingelheim Pharma KG, of Ingelheim, Germany; Pharming Technologies, of Leiden, the Netherlands; Chiron Corp., of Emeryville, Calif.; Genetronics Inc., of San Diego; and Infigen, of De Forest, Wis.

Principal shareholders in Chromos include GeneChem Technologies Venture Fund LP, of Montreal, which owns 13.63 percent; Sofinov Societe Financiere d'Innovation, of Montreal, which owns 13.4 percent; Working Opportunity Fund, of Vancouver, which owns 12 percent; and Royal Bank Ventures Inc., of Vancouver, which owns 12.35 percent.

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