By Mary Welch

Medarex Inc. raised about $344 million by selling 2.086 million shares of stock at $172 per share.

The company will use the proceeds to fund the in-licensing of potential therapeutic targets and the development of fully human antibody-based products using these targets. Following the offering, the Princeton, N.J.-based company will have 34.75 million shares outstanding. Medarex filed for the public offering Jan. 28.

The underwriters will be offered an additional 312,939 shares to cover overallotments. If the overallotment is fully exercised, Medarex would raise $397.8 million. The underwriting group included Morgan Stanley Dean Witter, Chase H&Q and Warburg Dillon Read LLC, all of New York, and Dain Rauscher Wessels, of Minneapolis.

The company is in an SEC-imposed "quiet period" and could not comment.

Medarex reported 1999 revenues of $9.92 million and a net loss of $17.03 million, or 53 cents per share. The company had $30.1 million in cash on Dec. 31. As of Feb. 29, the company had 32.66 million shares outstanding.

Medarex creates fully human monoclonal antibodies in its genetically engineered transgenic HuMAb-Mice. The HuMAb-Mouse generates, within three to six months, human (and therefore non-immunogenic) monoclonal antibodies with strong binding ability to a wide variety of disease targets.

So far, 15 companies have acquired the rights to use the HuMAb-Mice in development of their products. In addition to licensing the rights, Medarex intends to use its HuMAb-Mice and additional human antibody technology to develop therapeutics products in house, the company's SEC filing said.

As part of this focus, Medarex entered into a strategic alliance with Eos Biotechnology Inc., of South San Francisco, to develop and commercialize at least six and up to nine genomics-derived antibody-based therapeutic products for the treatment or prevention of life-threatening disease that may include breast, colorectal and prostate cancers. Eos will identify and validate novel antibody targets and will then use the HuMAb-Mouse technology to create products to those targets. (See BioWorld Today, Feb. 15, 2000, p. 1.)

In addition to its partnerships, Medarex recently moved its ovarian cancer drug candidate, MDX-210, into Phase III trials. Novartis AG, of Basel, Switzerland, was partnered with Medarex on MDX-210 but dropped out last year. (See BioWorld Today, March 1, 1999, p. 1.)

Last year, the company's first fully human antibody product, MDXS-CD4, entered clinical trials for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis.

The company's other products include MDX-447, which is in Phase II trials for cancer tumors that express the epidermal growth factor receptor, and MDX-220, an anticancer bispecific antibody for tumors that express the protein TAG-72, which is in Phase I. MDX-22, which is used to purge leukemia cells from the bone marrow of acute myeloid leukemia patients undergoing a transplant of their bone marrow, is in a Phase I trial.

Medarex's stock (NASDAQ:MEDX) closed Friday at $194.812, up $18.56.