Sibia Neurosciences Inc., with drug discovery collaborations in placeand proprietary products nearing the clinic, registered for an initialpublic offering of 2.1 million shares it estimates will be sold at $11 to$13 apiece.

The La Jolla, Calif., company _ founded by the Salk Institute forBiological Studies in 1981 _ will get an additional $5 million in theoffering from corporate collaborator Ciba-Geigy Ltd., bringing theoffering up to about 2.5 million shares.

Following the offering Sibia is expected to have about $44 million incash and 8.8 million shares outstanding. The Salk Institute wouldremain the largest shareholder, at 22.4 percent, followed by Ciba-Geigy (11.3 percent), Skandigen AB, of Stockholm, Sweden (11.2percent), Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. (7.4 percent), Sibia Chairmanand CEO William Comer (3.3 percent) and Eli Lilly and Co. (3.1percent).

Sibia for its first 10 years primarily was involved in biotechnology-related development under contract to industrial partners. The focusshifted around 1991 to drug discovery for central nervous system(CNS) disorders, with two primary technologies: human receptor/ionchannel subtypes and human protease technology.

In the receptor/ion channel program, Sibia identified the control ofcalcium levels within neurons as a key strategy for intervening inmany CNS disorders. The company is targeting specific neuronalsubtypes as a way of increasing effectiveness and reducing sideeffects.

The protease program is directed at finding drugs for Alzheimer'sdisease and other neurodegenerative conditions. The technologyfocuses on compounds that control the degradative proteases thatgenerate amyloid beta-protein, a neurotoxic fragment of the amyloidprecursor protein.

The company has been funded since 1991 not by venture capitalistsbut by stock sales and revenues from corporate collaborators. Sincethe company's reorganization in 1991 it has received about $16million from the sale of stock and $28 million in research support,license fees and other payments. The company had net income in1995 of $2.9 million, and a net loss of $27,000 in 1994.

Sibia began collaborations with Lilly, of Indianapolis, and Ciba, ofBasel, Switzerland, in 1992. Both focus on recombinant receptorsand ion channel technology. A potential $50 million, four-year dealwith New York-based Bristol-Myers Squibb, signed last year, is inthe protease area focusing on amyloid precursor proteins forAlzheimer's. (See BioWorld Today, August 17, 1995, p. 1.)

Sibia said its advances in the receptor/ion channel area came bycloning key human neuronal/ion channels, expressing them in stablecell lines and developing the resulting recombinant cell lines intofunctional assays for drug screening.

The company is focusing on three classes involved in regulatingneuronal calcium levels: nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (NAChR),excitatory amino acid receptors (EEAR) and voltage-gated calciumchannels (VGCC). Sibia discovered, isolated and developed a libraryof more than 50 complete genes cloned from human brain tissuecoding for multiple, distinct subtypes of the three receptor/ionchannel classes. Most are multimeric.

Collaborations with Ciba and Lilly, both of which have beenextended, are in the EEAR and VGCC areas, respectively.

From the unpartnered NAChR program Sibia has selected andcharacterized SIB-1508Y as a compound for Parkinson's disease.The company believes the compound may be effective for treatingnot only motor dysfunctions but affective and attentional aspects ofParkinson's as well.

Last September Sibia told BioWorld Today it was issued two patentsthe company believes broadly cover drug screening for the ability topromote or inhibit activity on cell surface receptors and ion channels.Officials said they know of a number of companies that may beviolating those patents. (See BioWorld Today, Sept. 26, 1995, p. 1.)n

-- Jim Shrine

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