By Mary Welch

Synsorb Biotech Inc. hopes to raise about $10 million through a public offering to help take its two lead products through clinical trials and pay for the operation of its new manufacturing facility.

The company, in Calgary, Alberta, filed a preliminary short-form prospectus with the securities commissions in Ontario, Quebec, Manitoba, Alberta and British Columbia. The final prospectus is expected to be filed in a few weeks.

¿We haven¿t set a price for the shares, but probably about 6 million shares will be involved,¿ said David Rafter, senior vice president of product development for Synsorb, which has 20.1 million shares outstanding.

Rafter said the offering would not be used to fund the recent acquisition of Oncolytics Biotech Inc., of Calgary, a biotechnology company that focuses on the potential utility of the reovirus in the treatment of cancer.

¿That was a stock exchange,¿ he said, in which Synsorb acquired Oncolytics¿ outstanding shares in a swap valued at $2.5 million worth of Synsorb shares, resulting in less than 4 percent dilution.

Synsorb has two compounds in late-stage development. One of these, Synsorb Pk for the treatment of enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli infections (¿hamburger disease¿) and the prevention of hemolytic uremic syndrome, is in Phase III trials in the U.S., Canada and Argentina. Currently, it is the only product in clinical trials to treat pediatric E. coli infections.

¿When will the trials finish?¿ Rafter said. ¿I wish I had the answer. That¿s what I¿m telling everyone. It¿ll definitely be finished by late 1999.¿

The other product, Synsorb Cd (Clostridium difficile) for the treatment of recurrent antibiotic-associated diarrhea, is in Phase II trials in the U.S., Canada and Europe. Interim results are expected this summer.

The company recently started operations and systems validation at its 30,000-square-foot chemical manufacturing plant in Calgary.

The offering¿s underwriting will be led by TD Securities Inc., of Toronto, and will include several other Toronto firms ¿ HSBC James Capel Canada Inc.; Dundee Securities Corp.; and Loewen, Ondaatje, McCutcheon Ltd. ¿ as well as Canaccord Capital Corp., of Vancouver, British Columbia.

In unrelated news, Synsorb changed its Nasdaq ticker symbol. The company¿s shares (NASDAQ:SYBB) closed Wednesday at $1.937, unchanged.