Millennium Pharmaceuticals Inc., a genomics company, is goingpublic with its gene discovery technology and at least one otherfeature distinguishing it from most fledgling biotechnology firms _it made a profit last year.

The Cambridge, Mass., company reported earning $1.3 million in1995 net income on $22.9 million in revenues from variouscollaborations with pharmaceutical firms to identify genes linked todiseases. The profit followed a $6.3 million net loss in 1994 onrevenues of $8 million.

Millennium registered to sell 4 million shares in its initial publicoffering and expects to receive at least $10 per share for grossproceeds of $40 million. Underwriters are Goldman, Sachs & Co., ofNew York, and Robertson, Stephens & Co., of San Francisco. Theyhave options to purchase an additional 600,000 shares to coveroverallotments.

At the end of 1995, Millennium had $17 million in cash. Followingthe equity offering the company will have 22.3 million sharesoutstanding.

Millennium has disease gene discovery alliances with RocheHoldings Ltd., of Basel, Switzerland, for obesity and Type IIdiabetes; with Eli Lilly and Co., of Indianapolis, for atherosclerosis;and with Astra AB, of Sodertlje, Sweden, for inflammatorydisorders of the respiratory system.

Three-year-old Millennium has found two genes, both related toobesity _ tub and ob receptor genes. Both discoveries triggeredmilestone payments from Roche.

The ob receptor gene encodes a receptor in the brain that receives asignal to stop eating from the ob gene's protein, leptin.

Millennium announced discovery of the tub gene in July 1995, buthas not released information on its relation to obesity pendingpublication in a scientific journal. The tub gene was found in a mousemodel that is normal until it reaches sexual maturity and thenbecomes overweight, which is similar to the process of weight gain inhumans.

While Millennium and Roche are focusing on the ob receptor as atarget for treatment of obesity, Amgen Inc., of Thousand Oaks, Calif.,is using the ob gene and leptin in its obesity drug program. The obgene was found by researchers at New York-based RockefellerUniversity and licensed to Amgen in March 1995.

Millennium's three corporate collaborations are expected to provideabout $145 million over five years in licensing fees, equityinvestments and research funding. The company also may receivemore money from the alliances based on achieving certain milestonesrelated to research and product development.

In addition to selling its gene discoveries to pharmaceutical firms fordrug development, Millennium intends to retain rights for somediagnostic and therapeutic applications. n

-- Charles Craig

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