Alexion Pharmaceuticals Inc. raised more than $18 million in aninitial public offering (IPO) of 2.2 million shares to support drugdevelopment projects for autoimmune and cardiovascular diseasesand to continue research on use of transgenic pig organs for humantransplant.

The New Haven, Conn., company registered in January 1996 to sell 2million shares in a projected range of $8 to $9 per share. Demandpushed the offering to 2.2 million shares and the IPO was pricedWednesday at $8.25 for gross proceeds of $18.2 million.

Underwriters, led by Josephthal Lyon & Ross Inc., of New York,have an option to purchase another 330,000 shares to coveroverallotments.

Alexion Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:ALXN) ended Wednesday at$9.12.

The company reported a $7 million net loss for its 1995 fiscal year,which ended July 31. As of Oct. 31, 1995, it had $3.7 million in cash.Following the IPO, Alexion has about 7 million shares outstanding.

Alexion's lead drug candidate, a humanized monoclonal antibody, isdesigned to prevent harmful inflammation caused by the immunesystem's complement cascade, which normally helps fight offinvading infective pathogens.

The single-chain monoclonal antibody inhibits C5, a key protein intriggering the complement system. When activated against the body,the complement damages tissues by killing off red blood cells thatnourish the tissues.

Alexion expects to file an investigational new drug application (IND)with the FDA next month for clinical trials of the C5 inhibitor. Thetests will evaluate the antibody's performance in preventinginflammatory complications in heart surgeries where acardiopulmonary bypass machine is used.

The company also is targeting C5 inhibitors for treatment of kidneyinflammation and rheumatoid arthritis.

Other product candidates, called apogens, are designed to treatautoimmune diseases. The drugs are recombinant proteins that induceapoptosis, or programmed cell death, in T cells that turn against thebody.

Alexion expects to file an IND in late 1996 for clinical trials of MP4,an apogen directed against T cells believed to cause multiplesclerosis.

Alexion's other major program is the development of transgenic pigorgans for human transplant. In August 1995, the company formed apartnership with U.S. Surgical Corp., of Norwalk, Conn., which madea $4 million equity investment. U.S. Surgical also agreed to provideresearch funding and milestone payments.

Alexion is testing its transgenic pig organs in primates and does notexpect to begin human trials until 1998.

A main challenge for xenotransplantation is preventing rejection ofanimal organs by the human immune system. Alexion geneticallyalters pigs with human genes so their organs are protected againstantibody attacks and assault by the complement system. n

-- Charles Craig

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