Interest in the initial public offering (IPO) of BioTransplant Inc.,which develops drugs to counter organ transplant rejection, increasedthe shares sold by 12 percent to 2.8 million and generated $26.6million in gross proceeds.

The Charlestown, Mass., company, whose IPO was priced at $9.50,raised enough money to fund operations at least through the end of1997. BioTransplant's research programs also include work in thefield of xenotransplantation, which involves using animal organs forhuman transplant.

The company's stock (NASDAQ:BTRN) debuted Wednesday andclosed at $10.50.

In March 1996 BioTransplant registered to sell 2.5 million shares in aprojected range of $9 to $11 per share. (See BioWorld Today, March15, 1996, p. 3.)

Demand pushed the offering up 300,000 shares to 2.8 million.Following the IPO, the company has 8.1 million shares outstanding.

Underwriters UBS Securities Inc., of New York, and Pacific GrowthEquities Inc., of San Francisco, have options to buy another 375,000shares to cover overallotments.

At the end of 1995 BioTransplant had $2.8 million in cash and a netloss for the year of $2 million.

The company's collaborations include agreements with MedImmuneInc., of Gaithersburg, Md., for development of drugs to preventhuman-to-human organ transplant rejections and with Sandoz Ltd., ofBasel, Switzerland, for research into substituting inbred miniature pigorgans for use in humans.

The partnership with MedImmune could be worth up to $16 millionplus royalties to BioTransplant. Sandoz, which is merging withfellow Basel-based drug maker Ciba-Geigy Ltd., agreed to pay up to$30 million in research funding and licensing fees.

The MedImmune alliance includes monoclonal antibodies developedby both companies to inhibit T cells responsible for a transplantrecipient's immune system rejection of a donor organ.

In the collaboration with Sandoz, BioTransplant has taken a differentapproach to xenotransplantation than other biotechnology firms.Rather than creating transgenic pigs, which are geneticallyengineered with human genes to prevent rejection of the animalorgans, BioTransplant combines elements of the pig and humanimmune systems in the bone marrow of the organ recipient. Theresultant mix is designed to counter rejection of the animal organs.

BioTransplant's president and CEO, Elliot Lebowitz, joined thecompany after six years as vice president of research anddevelopment at C.R. Bard Inc., of Boston. n

-- Charles Craig

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