By Randall Osborne

West Coast Editor

Declaring its plan to file by the end of this month a new drug application (NDA) for the leukemia drug acquired earlier in the year, Cell Therapeutics Inc. (CTI) registered for a follow-on offering of 3 million shares. At Monday's closing price (NASDAQ:CTIC) of $29.75, up $1.875, the sale would raise $88.6 million for the company.

After the offering, CTI would have 24.29 million shares outstanding. The Seattle-based company is in a quiet period, as required by the Securities and Exchange Commission, and could not comment.

The underwriting group for the offering, managed by CIBC World Markets Corp. and U.S. Bancorp Piper Jaffray, has an overallotment option for 450,000 shares.

In January, CTI gained rights to arsenic trioxide (ATO), for acute promyelocytic leukemia, as part of its buyout of New York-based PolaRx Biopharmaceuticals Inc., and CTI said at the time that it would file for approval in the first half of this year. The company reported last Friday that it will submit its NDA by the end of this month. The drug also has shown activity in other cancers, the company said. (See BioWorld Today, Jan. 11, 2000, p. 1.)

Last month, CTI raised $40 million in a private placement to help finance the ATO filing. The company sold 3.33 million shares at $12 each. (See BioWorld Today, Feb. 18, 2000, p. 1.)

Cash from that fund-raising also was intended to advance development of CTI's other oncology products. One is polyglutamic acid paclitaxel (PG-TXL), which is in Phase I trials in the UK for people with advanced cancers. Phase I/II studies in the U.S. are planned later this year. The drug is a water-soluble, less toxic and possibly more effective version of paclitaxel (Taxol), made by Bristol-Myers Squibb Co., of Whitehouse Station, N.J.

Another CTI cancer drug is Apra (CT-2584), a small molecule designed to treat patients with tumors resistant to conventional forms of chemotherapy, including sarcomas and tumors of the prostate, colon, lung and breast. Apra is expected to be on the market by 2002 or 2003.