CAMBRIDGE, U.K. — Quadrant Healthcare plc has announced its intention to list on the London Stock Exchange and expects to complete the flotation within the next two months, raising up to £30 million.

Iain Ross, CEO, told BioWorld International the prospects for the flotation are very positive. "The market was very depressed at the end of last year; otherwise we would have gone for it then. We took soundings at the beginning of the year and decided to go ahead."

Nomura International has been appointed sponsor and lead manager to the listing. In its last private funding round in April 1996, Quadrant raised £6 million.

Quadrant, based in Cambridge, specializes in the stabilization and delivery of drugs using technology developed around trehalose, an extremely stable, naturally occurring sugar.

Trehalose is the compound which desert plants substitute for water when they go into suspended animation. The company has developed a number of trehalose and other sugar derivatives that are capable of controlling the release of drugs.

Clients of its formulation business include Astra Draco AB, Glaxo Wellcome and SmithKline Beecham. It has a technology collaboration with U.S.-based Pall Corp. for the development of dried blood platelets, and with R.P. Scherer in drug delivery.

Ross commented, "While the market for biotechnology stocks has been bad, the drug delivery stocks have held up better. For example, the share price of Powderject, the last drug delivery company to float, has held up. We are focusing on drug delivery."

The company will spend the money on its collaborative projects. It hopes to get the dried platelets into clinical trials this year. Quadrant also has two other projects — reformulated versions of cyclosporin and acyclovir, which show improved bioavailability — in Phase I.

"These are in the clinic and we need more money to progress them to the stage where they can be licensed," Ross said. But most of the money will go to developing Quadrant's inhalation expertise. "This is a very expensive area," he added.

The company has developed trehalose derivatives that dissolve at specified rates, and intends to incorporate these into controlled-release formulations that can be inhaled.