By Mary Welch

Keryx Biopharmaceuticals Inc., an Israeli company that develops drugs using its KinAce bioinformatics drug discovery platform, intends to raise $75 million in an initial public offering.

Roth Capital Partners Inc., of New York, is the lead U.S. underwriter. WestLB Panmure Ltd., of Dusseldorf, Germany, is the lead European underwriter. As of April 30, the company had 9.482 million shares outstanding. Keryx expects that with its existing cash and the net proceeds from this offering, it will have enough operating capital for at least the next 18 months, according to the registration statement.

The company will use the proceeds to fund clinical trials for KRX-101 and KRX-123 as well as to fund the discovery and further development of compounds using the KinAce platform.

The company's KinAce bioinformatics drug discovery platform uses a proprietary bioinformatic algorithm approach, which focuses on the sequence of specific portions of a protein kinase, to identify small compounds that can potentially inhibit or stimulate the activity of that kinase.

Keryx, which is based in Jerusalem, said its approach allows it to discover more drug candidates in less time and with lower levels of toxicity than competitors. To date, the company has discovered 13 lead compounds in less than two years, eight of which have exhibited in vivo activity. The average time from concept to in vivo testing is about four months.

Keryx expects to enter human clinical trials in Israel this year for its first KinAce compound, KRX-123, for hormone-resistant prostate cancer.

KRX-101 (sulodexide) is an in-licensed compound for the treatment of diabetic nephropathy and other conditions. KRX-101 has been administered to more than 3,000 patients in European clinical trials for the treatment of vascular conditions. Keryx plans on filing an investigational new drug application with the FDA for Type II diabetic nephropathy and will request a fast-track designation. The proposed clinical trial will involve about 200 Type II diabetic patients with nephropathy on ACE inhibitors. A reduction in albuminuria will be an endpoint for the trial. It also plans on opening an office in the U.S. to oversee the planned Phase I trials of KRX-101.

The company's other 12 KinAce compounds are being developed through a combination of in-house efforts and research and development agreements. Keryx recently entered into collaborations with the National Institutes of Health; Novo Nordisk A/S, of Bagsvaerd, Denmark; Osteotech Inc., of Toronto; and a unnamed multinational pharmaceutical and healthcare products company.

The company reported no revenues for 1999 or the first quarter of 2000. It posted a net loss of $9 million in 1999. The company had $6.5 million in cash as of Dec. 31.

Keryx' proposed Nasdaq ticker symbol is KERX.