La Jolla Pharmaceutical Co. (LJP), a developerof drugs used to treat antibody-mediateddiseases, has filed a registration statement withthe Securities and Exchange Commission for aninitial public offering (IPO) of 2.8 million shares ofcommon stock at $7.50 to $9 a share.The offering will be underwritten by D. Blech andCo. Inc., of New York. All shares registered willbe sold by LJP, which hopes to raise between$21 million and $25 million with this offering.Andrew Wiseman, LJP's director of businessdevelopment, declined to disclose informationabout the number of shares outstanding or thecompany's burn rate. LJP's prospectus was notavailable when BioWorld went to press.Based in San Diego, LJP is engaged in theresearch and development of therapeutics forthe treatment of autoimmune, inflammatory andother diseases. These include lupus, RH-hemolytic diseases of the newborn, recurrentstroke, Graves' disease, myasthenia gravis, andPLA2.The company plans to file an Investigational NewDrug Application for its LJP-394 compound thisyear. LJP-394 arrests the synthesis of antibodiesto double-stranded DNA, a hallmark of lupus.In July 1993, LJP received a notice of allowancefrom the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office forits Toleragen molecules (the family LJP-394belongs to) to treat systemic lupuserythematosus. The molecules were developedwith a proprietary chemical process the companynamed Tolerance Technology. The companysaid that in animal tests, LJP 394 was an orderof magnitude or more effective than earliermolecules and that increased potency andefficacy should lead to lower doses in patientsand to an improved efficacy/safety profile.The allowance of broad composition of matterclaims for our lupus toleragens enables us toestablish a very strong proprietary position,Joseph Stemler, LJP's president and chiefexecutive officer, said. He indicated thatadditional applications might in time be filed inthe U.S., Europe, and the Far East.A pilot plant for the production of materials forpreclinical studies such as toxicology wasopened in October 1993 at the company'sfacilities in San Diego. The plant producesproducts for toxicology and clinical studies.According to Wiseman, the facility integratesstate-of-the-art DNA synthesis, proprietarylinkage chemistries and conjugation processes.Stemler described completion of the plant as amajor step toward the company's goal of humanclinical trials in 1994, following its successfuldrug development/animal testing program.In addition to LJP-394, the company haslicensed two related technologies forautoimmune diseases. One, exclusively licensedfrom the University of California at San Diego, isa program to develop inhibitors of the enzymephospholipase A2 (PLA2) as potential treatmentsfor inflammation and inflammatory diseases.The other technology is a muscle-targetedprotease inhibitor to treat muscular dystrophy.LJP was spun off Quidel Corp. of San Diego in1989. Quidel now focuses on the developmentand marketing of non-instrumented diagnosticproducts for physicians' offices and the homemarket.In its first round of venture financing in 1989, LJPraised $12 million. An additional $14 million wasraised in its second round in 1992. Investors inthe initial round included Harvard ManagementCo., Allstate, Security Pacific Capital, ConcordPartners, Brentwood Associates, WolfensohnAssociates, New York Life, Phoenix Partners,Schroder Partners and Sorrento Associates.This group also participated in the second round.They were joined by S.R. One Ltd., MedicalVenture Holdings, Techno Venture Management,and Ventana Growth Funds.031894La Jolla
-- Philippa Maister
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