By Mary Welch

Dyax Corp. filed for an initial public offering (IPO) of 2.5 million shares but did not release an expected price range.

Upon completion of the offering, the company will have 9.77 million shares outstanding. The proposed Nasdaq trading symbol is DYAX.

The Cambridge, Mass.-based company intends to use the money raised to fund operations through the first half of 2000, including subsidizing research and development, retiring $763,000 of outstanding debt, and negotiating for technology in-licensing and acquisitions.

The company experienced a net loss of $5.5 million in 1997 with operating expenses of $15.6 million. Dyax reported having cash and working capital of $10.5 million at the end of last year. Total revenues were $9.8 million for 1997, up from $7 million the year before. Revenues from product sales were $7.6 million, a jump from $4.5 million in 1996.

The company was incorporated in 1989 under the name Biotage Inc. and merged with Protein Engineering Corp. in 1995. Now called Dyax, its phage display technology has broad potential commercial applications in the fields of therapeutic, diagnostic and separations products.

Dyax's phage display is a high-throughput technology platform that may reduce costs, shorten development times and lead to the commercialization of more effective products in these fields.

Phages are viruses that infect bacteria and are engineered to express small structure peptides. The company then searches for the small peptides that bind most specifically to a targeted molecule.

According to Dyax, phage display technology allows for the screening of tens to hundreds of millions of compounds quickly to determine the best peptides for binding and releasing at specified conditions. This is in contrast to antibodies, which are limited to physiologic conditions. The technology provides a means of identifying and capturing desired molecules from complex mixtures.

Dyax also develops, manufactures and sells fully integrated chromatography separations systems under the Biotage trade name. Chromatography is used to purify a desired product or to remove impurities from a mixture during the discovery, development and manufacturing of a therapeutic product. Dyax has sold its Biotage products to more than 50 pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, including Bachem AG, of Bubendorf, Switzerland; Bayer AG, of Leverkusen, Germany; Hoffmann-LaRoche Ltd., of Basel, Switzerland; and Novartis AG, also of Basel.

Dyax has licensed its phage display to more than 25 companies for use in the fields of therapeutics and antibody-based in vitro diagnostics and in research kits. Among those companies are: Glaxo Wellcome plc, of London; Chiron Corp. of Emeryville, Calif.; Genzyme Corp. of Cambridge, Mass.; and Merck & Co., of Whitehouse Station, N.J.

Underwriting the IPO are Salomon Smith Barney Inc. and CIBC Oppenheimer, both of New York, and Pacific Growth Equities Inc., of San Francisco. *