Ribozyme Pharmaceuticals Inc. filed for an initial public offering of2 million shares that is expected to raise $18 million to $22 million.

The Boulder, Colo., company is estimating the shares will be pricedbetween $9 and $11 apiece. Montgomery Securities, of SanFrancisco, and Vector Securities International Inc., of Deerfield, Ill.,are underwriting the offering. The have an option on another 300,000shares to cover overallotments.

Chiron Corp., of Emeryville, Calif., will purchase about 377,000shares for $3.64 million in the offering. In addition, Chiron will payRibozyme $1.8 million to complete the purchase of warrants.

Ribozyme was formed in 1992 to develop drugs based on the work ofNobel Prize winner Thomas Cech, of the University of Colorado. Heshared the 1989 award for the discovery of ribozymes, which areenzymatic RNA molecules that are able to clip RNA at selected siteswithout the help of proteins. The technology uses RNA molecules tomodify gene expression.

In addition the ribozymes can be designed to select for a singlespecific target genetic sequence. Another potential of ribozymes is asa drug discovery technology to characterize the function of potentialtarget genes.

After the offering the company will have about 6.4 million sharesoutstanding. That doesn't include 350,000 shares issuable uponexercise of stock options and 444,000 shares covered by the Chironwarrants.

Ribozyme reported $6.4 million in cash and equivalents on Dec. 31,1995. Its net loss in 1995 was $12.4 million.

The company was started by United States Biochemical Corp., ofCleveland, and a group of venture capital firms _ MorgenthalerVentures, of Cleveland; Venrock Associates, of New York; CWGroup, of New York; and Advent International, of Boston.

Those firms all participated in a July 1995 private financing ofRibozyme that brought in $10 million. Ribozyme said then that it hadraised $28 million to date.

U.S. Biochemical, which later was acquired by Buckinghamshire,U.K.-based Amersham International plc, licensed ribozyme patentrights to the Boulder start-up.

In 1993 Ribozyme signed its first major research and developmentcollaboration, with the Parke-Davis division of Warner-Lambert Co.,of Morris Plains, N.J. The initial target area was osteoarthritis.

In June 1995 Ribozyme and Parke-Davis extended the collaboration,which entailed additional equity investments by Parke-Davis

Chiron and Ribozyme began their collaboration in August 1995. Itsfocus was using the ribozyme technology to develop products to treatand diagnose infectious, cardiovascular and inflammatory diseasesand cancer. The collaboration has five targets but only HIV andrestenosis have been disclosed.

Another deal, with Dow Elanco, involves an agricultural feasibilitystudy for the use of ribozymes in corn. Dow Elanco is a joint venturebetween The Dow Chemical Co., of Midland, Mich., and Eli Lilly &Co., of Indianapolis. n

-- Jim Shrine

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