Vical Inc. registered to sell 2.5 million shares toaccommodate investor demand, and to strike while itsstock was hot.

The San Diego gene therapy company said Tuesday that itfiled a registration statement for a public offering, whichwould gross Vical $29.7 million if sold at Tuesday'sclosing price of $11.88 per share, down 25 cents on theday. Vical's stock (NASDAQ:VICL) was at $8.75 on July10, when Sandoz Ltd. offered $295 million to acquireGenetic Therapy Inc., and has moved up sharply since.

"We had several large institutions that were interested inbuilding a position in the company," Martha Demski,Vical's vice president and chief financial officer, toldBioWorld Today. "And we knew we would have to go tothe market in the next 12 to 18 months. By going to thepublic markets we're able to raise money without havingto license our technology."

Vical reported having $26 million in cash and equivalentson June 30, 1995, and had a net loss of $4.4 million in1994. Demski said the offering should give the companyenough money to get through 1998. Vical has about 12.8million shares outstanding.

Vical has two products in the clinic, neither of which ispartnered. Allovectin-7 _ which contains a gene thatencodes a foreign tissue antigen _ is expected to go intoPhase II trials later this year, Demski said, in melanoma,renal cell carcinoma, colorectal cancer, breast cancer andnon-Hodgkin's lymphoma. Leuvectin is in Phase I/IIstudies for the treatment of melanoma, renal cellcarcinoma and other solid tumors. _ Jim Shrine

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