Calypte Biomedical Corp., which received an FDA approvable letterfive months ago for an AIDS urine test, braved the current marketslump to complete an initial public offering (IPO) that generatednearly $14 million through the sale of 2.3 million shares.

When the Berkeley, Calif., company registered for the IPO itintended to sell 2.5 million shares at a projected price of $9 per share,generating $22.5 million.

In pricing the IPO Friday at $6 per share, the company also reducedthe shares offered to 2.3 million for gross proceeds of $13.8 million.

Calypte's stock (NASDAQ:CALY) was up $1, or 17 percent, to $7by midday Monday.

The underwriter was Pacific Growth Equities, of San Francisco.Following the IPO, Calypte has 10.1 million shares outstanding.

As of March 31, 1996, the company said it had $1.8 million in cashand a net loss of $2.8 million for the first three months of the year.Calypte reported a net loss of $10.4 million for 1995.

In March 1996, the FDA sent Calypte an approvable letter for itsHIV-1 urine screening diagnostic, which identifies HIV antibodies. Inits IPO prospectus, the company said labeling issues had to beresolved before final approval.

HIV tests usually detect the disease in blood. Calypte said a urine-based test is easier to use and is less expensive. Because thelikelihood of infectious HIV in urine is low, the company said its testalso significantly reduces risk of exposure to the virus for peoplehandling the diagnostic samples.

Calypte said it is developing an over-the-counter version of thediagnostic and plans to submit an application with the FDA to marketa home test.

In addition to testing for HIV antibodies, Calypte is developinganother AIDS diagnostic that may have even greater potentialaccuracy by detection of antibodies to human endogenousretroviruses (HERV).

HERV antibodies are believed to appear when the body's cell-mediated immune system fails. The shutdown of the immune systemis considered the point at which HIV progresses to AIDS.

Calypte researchers have suggested the presence of HERV antibodiesmay signal progression of the disease and HERVs may act as co-factors. HERVs occur naturally and have been studied for years, buttheir relationship to diseases is not understood.

Calypte also is developing other urine-based diagnostics, includingthose for detection of chlamydia and Helicobacter pylori. n

-- Charles Craig

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