By Randall Osborne

Ribozyme Pharmaceuticals Inc. filed a registration statement with the Securities and Exchange Commission for an offering of up to 1.8 million shares, at a proposed maximum price of $5 per share, which would raise $9 million for the Boulder, Colo.-based company.

After the offering, Ribozyme will have 10.9 million shares outstanding.

The company said it will use the proceeds to fund preclinical trials, as well as for research and development and general corporate purposes.

Last week, Ribozyme entered a deal with Indianapolis-based Eli Lilly and Co. deal worth up to $38 million to develop and market Heptazyme for the treatment of hepatitis C virus (HCV).

Under the terms of the agreement, Ribozyme will receive $9.2 million this year, including initial fees, funding for research and clinical trial materials, and an undisclosed equity investment. Ribozyme could receive up to $38 million in the deal, most of the rest coming from milestone payments, and would receive royalties on sales.

In return, Lilly gets worldwide commercialization rights and will handle the drug¿s development, clinical testing, governmental approvals and marketing.

Heptazyme is a catalytic RNA molecule that has the unique potential to bind and cleave HCV RNA specifically and selectively, thus suggesting that viral replication can be inhibited without affecting other normal physiological processes. In addition, Heptazyme cleaves the HCV RNA in the Ire region, a location whose sequence is the same in all known forms of the virus.

Chiron Deal Focused On Anti-Angiogenesis Drug

With Emeryville, Calif.-based Chiron Corp., Ribozyme is developing the anti-angiogensis compound Angiozyme, which is in Phase I trials. Angiozyme is a synthetic ribozyme that specifically inhibits synthesis of the vascular endothelial growth factor receptor, a key component in the angiogenesis-blood growth pathway.

Ribozyme recently reported a net loss of $10.9 million, or $1.22 per share, on revenues from collaborations and from interest income of $9.6 million for the year ended Dec. 31, 1998, compared to a net loss of $15.1 million, or $2.04 per share, on revenues and interest income of $2.7 million for 1997.

The company¿s stock (NASDAQ:RZYM) closed Friday at $5.062, down $0.125.