Oncogene Science Inc. is seeking to nearly double its cash positionwith a public offering of 2.5 million shares.

The Uniondale, N.Y., company, would gross $21.6 million if theshares sell at Thursday's closing price of $8.63, which was down 25cents on the day. Robertson, Stephens & Co. LLC, of San Francisco,is managing the offering.

Oncogene Science currently has about 17.5 million sharesoutstanding. It reported cash of about $24 million on Dec. 31, 1995.

The company said proceeds from the offering will be used forresearch and development expenses, including enhancement of itsdrug discovery technologies.

Those discovery technologies _ which combine geneticallyengineered live cell assays with high-throughput robotic screening fordiscovery of small molecule compounds _ is at the heart ofcollaborations Oncogene Science has with Pfizer Inc., HoechstMarion Roussel Inc., Wyeth-Ayerst Laboratories and Ciba-GeigyLtd.

"The mechanism we're interested in is gene transcription _ theprocess by which genes are switched on or off or modulated up ordown that results in expression or inhibition of proteins," saidMatthew Haines, corporate communications director for Oncogene."We're interested in discovering compounds that will affect thatmechanism so we can regulate gene expression."

Haines said assays incorporating live cell lines gives a more realisticenvironment in which the cell and genes are working, offering anadvantage in seeing how a drug candidate may act in the body.

Oncogene Science has one product in the clinic and several otherspoised to be taken out of preclinical testing.

Ciba, of Basel, Switzerland, is in a Phase I/II European study ofOncogene Science's transforming growth factor-beta 3 (TGF-beta 3)for wound-healing indications. An investigational new drugapplication has been filed in the U.S. to use the protein for thetreatment of oral mucositis in cancer chemotherapy patients.

Pfizer Inc., of New York, had rights to TGF-beta 3 in oral mucositis,but gave them over to Ciba last year in exchange for a royaltyarrangement.

Work with the Frankfurt, Germany-based Hoechst companies is inthe areas of atherosclerosis, arthritis, cardiovascular diseases andAlzheimer's.

With Wyeth-Ayerst, a Radnor, Pa., division of American HomeProducts Corp., Oncogene Science is working in the areas ofdiabetes, immune system modulation, asthma and osteoporosis.

Oncogene Science has proprietary programs in chronic anemias, viralinfections and muscle wasting. Compounds have been identified inthe chronic anemias area, Haines said, and that program is one thatoffers the potential for new collaborations.

Before Oncogene Sciences announced the public offering lateWednesday, the company put out its first quarter results for theperiod ending Dec. 31, 1995.

Oncogene Science had a net loss of about $1.8 million and revenuesof nearly $2.3 million, which was lower than that $4.2 millionOncogene Science brought in during the comparable quarter a yearearlier. The lower revenues primarily were attributed to decreasedsales, which came about after the sale for $6 million cash last year ofits research products business. n

-- Jim Shrine

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