WASHINGTON _ GeneMedicine Inc. became the fourthbiotechnology company in March to file for an initial public offering(IPO) led by New York-based D. Blech & Co. Inc.GeneMedicine's prospectus, filed with the Securities and ExchangeCommission on March 31, offers 3.6 million shares of common stockpriced at between $7 and $9 per share. D. Blech has an option to buyan additional 540,000 common shares to cover overallotments.There are now a total of five early-stage biotechnology companies thathave IPOs pending with D. Blech as the lead underwriter. The fourother Blech IPOs in registration are Ariad Pharmaceuticals Inc. ofCambridge, Mass. (filed March 11, 94), La Jolla Pharmaceutical Co.of San Diego (filed March 17, 94), Scios Nova spinoff GuilfordPharmaceuticals Inc. of Baltimore (filed March 28, 94), and LXRBiotechnology Inc. of Richmond, Calif. (filed Dec. 10, 93).So far this year, D. Blech has acted as the lead manager for threecompleted public offerings that have raised a total of roughly $61million: Procept Inc. of Cambridge, Mass. (IPO grossed $20.5 millionin February), BioSepra Inc. of Marlborough, Mass. (IPO grossed about$21 million in March), and DNA Plant Technology Corp. (follow-onoffering grossed $19 million in January).GeneMedicine of Houston raised $8.5 million in its first round offinancing in May 1993. Investors included Abingworth ManagementLtd., D. Blech & Co., Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, NewEnterprise Associates, Schroder Ventures, Ventures Medical, SEDVentures and the Community Technology Fund.GeneMedicine has focused on developing non-viral gene therapies. Afact sheet prepared by the company before the IPO was filed definedgene medicine as "pharmaceutical formulations of DNA used for non-permanent gene therapy." GeneMedicine's approach is to injecttherapeutic genes in synthetic vectors targeted to specific tissues. Thecompany's fact sheet claimed that because gene medicines are notintegrated into chromosomal DNA, they may prove more versatilethan permanent gene therapies.The company's two lead products are still in preclinical development(presumably laboratory and animal studies). One is being developed todeliver insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I) to treat muscle wasting,osteoporosis and peripheral neuropathies, and the other is to deliverblood clotting factors to treat hemophilia B.GeneMedicine's lead compounds are based on inventions by scientistsat Baylor College of Medicine and the University of California, SanFrancisco. The company has exclusive licensing agreements withBaylor for current and certain future gene therapy technologies. Inaddition, GeneMedicine has collaborative research agreements inplace with several laboratories at Baylor to support furtherdevelopments of these technologies.GeneMedicine has an exclusive worldwide licensing agreement withthe University of California for certain novel vector deliverytechnologies that enhance gene expression. In November 1993, thecompany announced it had licensed commercial rights to the gene forFactor IX from British Technology Group USA Inc. The Factor IXgene will be used to develop a treatment for hemophilia B.
-- Lisa Piercey Washington Editor
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