By Karen Pihl-Carey

Diacrin Inc. priced 3 million shares in a public offering to raise $34.5 million in gross proceeds.

At $11.50 per share, the price is about $6 less than an assumed price listed in Diacrin¿s SEC registration statement from late February. At that time, the company used a closing stock price of $17.63 per share, expecting gross proceeds of about $53 million. (See BioWorld Today, Feb. 25, 2000, p. 1.)

As with many biotechnology stocks, Diacrin shares (NASDAQ:DCRN) recently have lost ground. They closed up 93.75 cents on Thursday, however, at $12.75.

The Charlestown, Mass.-based company expects to close the offering next week. It then will have about 17.4 million shares outstanding. Managing underwriters include PaineWebber Inc., of New York, and Nomura International plc, of London. They are entitled to an overallotment option on 450,000 shares, which, if exercised in full, would raise Diacrin another $5.2 million, for about $39.7 million total.

In its prospectus, Diacrin said it intends to use proceeds for product research and development and other general corporate purposes.

Diacrin has plans to move its lead product, NeuroCell-PD, into a Phase III trial halfway through this year. The product completed last year a three-year Phase I trial in 12 patients with Parkinson¿s disease. It initiated an 18-patient, pivotal, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled Phase II/III trial in 1998, which is expected to be unblinded later this year. Diacrin plans to enroll 36 patients for the single-blind, randomized Phase III trial.

NeuroCell-PD is a fast-track product and an orphan drug for advanced Parkinson¿s disease. Another version of the drug, NeuroCell-HD for Huntington¿s disease, is in a Phase I trial. Both are being developed through a joint venture with Genzyme Corp., of Cambridge, Mass.

Diacrin focuses on the development of cell transplantation technology using porcine (pig) cells, which are functionally similar to human cells. Aside from the NeuroCell products, the company is testing porcine neural cells in stroke, focal epilepsy and chronic intractable pain. It also is looking at porcine spinal cord cells in spinal cord injury, human liver cells in cirrhosis, porcine liver cells in acute liver failure, human muscle cells in cardiac disease, and porcine RPE (retinal pigment epithelial) cells in macular degeneration. All of the programs are in the preclinical or Phase I stages.

The company had cash, cash equivalents and investments of $21.4 million at the end of 1999.