Faced with less than a year's worth of cash reserves, Canadian-basedBiomira Inc. is going back to its shareholders in an effort to raisebetween $18 million and $22 million.

The Edmonton-based company has registered for a rights offering tosell units consisting of one common share and one warrant. Eachwarrant will be redeemable for one common share.

Jim Devaney, Biomira's vice president of finance and chief financialofficer, said the rights offering will allow the company to bolster itsresources without the stock dilution that would accompany a publicoffering.

Devaney said neither the price of the units nor the number of sharesto be issued has been established. Those items will be settled in thefinal prospectus preceding the offering, which should be completed inseveral weeks.

Almiria Capital Corp., of Montreal, has agreed to buy a maximum of$13.14 million worth of units not purchased by shareholders.

At the end of 1994, Biomira reported it had $20.4 million in cashwith a burn rate of about $1.3 million a month. The company has22.5 million shares outstanding.

"We have sufficient cash to take us into the first quarter of 1996without the offering," Devaney said.

Biomira is developing diagnostics and treatments for cancer. Thecompany's lead therapeutic candidate, Theratope, is a vaccine thatconsists of an antigen commonly found in most tumors and anadjuvant, Detox, which is made by Ribi ImmunoChem Research Inc,of Hamilton, Mont.

The vaccine is in Phase II trials in Canada and the U.K. for treatmentof breast, ovarian and colorectal cancers. Phase II trials of Theratopealso are ongoing in the U.S. for ovarian and colorectal cancer andanother Phase II study is testing the vaccine in combination withalpha interferon for breast cancer.

In February, the company reported that preliminary data from 40colorectal cancer patients treated with Theratope showed theyexperienced a median survival of 14.4 months, which is equivalent tothe typical response of patients receiving chemotherapy.

An advantage of Theratope, Biomira said, is that it does not have thetoxic side effects of chemotherapy. Another vaccine, BP1-7, a MUC-1 peptide, is in Phase I trials in Canada and the U.S. for breastcancer.

The company's diagnostic products include Tru-Scint imaging agentsfor in vivo detection of cancer. Biomira has filed for approval withthe FDA to begin Phase III trials of Tru-Scint AD for breast cancer.Tru-Scint SQ has completed Phase II studies for squamous cellcancers of the head, neck cervix and lung.

Biomira's only product on the market is a diagnostic, Truquant, for invitro diagnosis of cancer. The product is on the market in Canada,Japan and Europe and a premarket approval application has beenaccepted for review by the FDA.

Biomira (NASDAQ:BIOMF) closed Friday at $3, up 25 cents. n

-- Charles Craig

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