Sparta Pharmaceuticals Inc. completed its initial public offering (IPO)of 1.1 million units, six months after the Durham, N.C., originallyproposed going public.Sparta sold the units _ which consist of one stock share, one class Awarrant and one class B warrant _ for $5 apiece, grossing $5.5million. The stock is trading under the NASDAQ symbol "SPTA." Theunderwriter, Americorp Securities Inc., of New York, has an option on165,000 units to cover overallotments.In January, Sparta proposed offering 1.84 million shares at $7 to $8 pershare. That deal, with underwriter RAS Securities Corp. of New York,was pulled, before the company refiled in April with Americorp to sell1 million shares at $5 per share.The company, incorporated in June 1990, focuses on acquiring rightsto and developing drugs and technologies for the treatment of cancer.Sparta has two drug-delivery technologies in development, Spartajectand L.A.D.D. (Liver Associated Disease Delivery). It also has acompound, CI-921, in Phase I trials in Britain for treatment of lung andbreast cancers.Following the offering, Sparta has about 6 million shares outstandingand about $5 million cash, which it said will last at least a year. In itslast private placement in November, Sparta raised $3.9 million fromthe placement of convertible notes.Sparta's net loss for the quarter ending March 31 was $659,000, andresearch and development expenses were $352,000.The class A warrants allow holders to purchase one share of commonstock at an exercise price of $6.50; the class B warrants allow for thepurchase of one share at $10.75. Both have five-year terms.The Spartaject technology is sublicensed from Research TrianglePharmaceuticals Ltd., of North Carolina, which licensed it fromPharma Logic Inc., of Miami. It is intended to improve delivery ofchemotherapeutics for treatment of tumors or bloodborne cancers.Spartaject also is being tested to for delivery of compounds whosedevelopment was stopped because of solubility problems.The L.A.D.D. system involves delivering an inactive compound thatpasses through the body and is converted in the liver by an enzyme intoan active agent. The goal is to adjust the dosage of the pro-drug so thatappropriate therapeutic levels of the active ingredient remain in theliver for targeted treatment, or higher levels of the activated drug passout of the liver to provide chemotherapy throughout the body.The compound, CI-921, is being developed with the Cancer ResearchCampaign in London, an affiliate of which licensed it to Sparta. Whileprevious trials have shown only borderline activity, the companybelieves dosing changes may enhance its efficacy, and that the use ofgrowth factors may lessen one of the compound's side effects, allowingfor more aggressive use. n

-- Jim Shrine

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