Progenics Inc., which recently began a Phase III trial of a cancervaccine, filed for an initial public offering (IPO) of 2 million sharesexpected to be priced between $11 and $13 each.

The Tarrytown, N.Y., company would raise $24 million if the sharescome to market at $12. Underwriters Oppenheimer & Co. Inc., ofNew York, and Vector Securities International Inc., of Deerfield, Ill.,have an option to purchase an additional 300,000 shares to coveroverallotments.

Progenics is applying its immunology expertise to the development ofproducts for cancer and viral diseases. Its drug candidates aredesigned to induce immune responses or mimic natural immunity.

In August the company began an 800-patient study of a gangliosideconjugate vaccine, GMK, in melanoma patients who have had theircancer surgically removed but are at a high risk of relapse. Thevaccine incorporates the GM2 ganglioside, which is present on mostmelanoma cells, conjugated to an immunogenic carrier and combinedwith an adjuvant.

Previous studies showed patients who developed antibodies againstGM2 experienced statistically significant disease-free survival. Thepivotal study will compare GMK with high-dose alpha interferon.The company said two international Phase III trials will begin nextyear.

Progenics has exclusive licenses from Memorial Sloan-KetteringCancer Center in New York to several ganglioside conjugatevaccines designed to stimulate the immune system to destroy cancercells.

A second ganglioside conjugate vaccine, MGV, is in Phase I/II trialsat Sloan-Kettering. It incorporates two ganglioside antigens presentin a range of cancer cells.

Progenics' second program is called universal antiviral binding agent(UnAB) technology, which is used in development of agents for HIV.The technology is designed to produce antibody-like molecules thatneutralize or destroy HIV or HIV-infected cells. That approach isbased on the CD4 receptor.

Another approach in HIV is based on a recently discovered secondreceptor for the virus, CC-CKR-5. Progenics President and CEO PaulMaddon was co-author of a June 20, 1996, report in Nature titled,"HIV-1 entry into CD4+ cells is mediated by the chemokine receptorCC-CKR-5." Maddon did his work with researchers at the AaronDiamond AIDS Research Center in New York.

The receptor enables fusion of HIV with a cell membrane and entryof the virus' genetic information into the cell. The company is usingan assay in a program to discover drugs that specifically inhibit theinteraction of HIV with the CKR-5 receptor, thereby blocking viralfusion and entry. (See BioWorld Today, June 21, 1996, p. 1.)

In the UnAB program Progenics has a compound, PRO 542, that hasbeen shown in vitro to recognize a range of HIV strains. Aninvestigational new drug application is expected to be filed this yearfor PRO 542, with Phase I/II trials following in 1997.

Another compound, PRO 367, is being developed to kill HIV-infected cells. It consists of a UnAB molecule linked to aradioisotope and is designed to bind to and destroy infected cells bydelivering a lethal dose of radioactivity.

The company will have nearly 8.6 million shares outstanding after theoffering. n

-- Jim Shrine

(c) 1997 American Health Consultants. All rights reserved.