BioCryst Pharmaceuticals Inc., a structure-based drug designcompany, intends to join the swelling ranks of publicbiotechnology companies.

BioCryst of Birmingham, Ala., filed a registration statementwith the Securities and Exchange Commission on Jan. 7 for aninitial public offering of 2.5 million shares of common stockpriced at $7.50 to $9.50 per share. Dillon Read & Co. Inc. ismanaging the offering with Needham & Co. as co-manager.

BioCryst has already completed Phase I/II clinical trials on itslead compound, BCX-34, which was designed to inhibit theenzyme purine nucleoside phosphorylase (PNP). Researchers atBioCryst have shown in animal studies that the drug selectivelyprevents T cell proliferation, a condition that has been shownto play a role in inflammatory diseases and certain types ofcancers.

The clinical trials evaluated the safety and efficacy of a dermalcream containing BCX-34 in the treatment of cutaneous T celllymphoma. BioCryst has also conducted clinical trials with BCX-34 for treating psoriasis and plans to investigate its usefulnessin treating allergic contact dermatitis.

In mid-December, BioCryst's founder, Charles Bugg, once againtook the reins of the company as chief executive officer andchairman of the board. He was the company's first CEO, from1987-1988, while on sabbatical from the University ofAlabama, Birmingham, where he is director of the Center forMacromolecular Crystallography.

-- Jennifer Van Brunt Senior Editor

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