MicroProbe Corp. announced Thursday that it has filed aregistration statement with the Securities and ExchangeCommission (SEC) for an initial public offering (IPO) of 2.5million shares of common stock and 2.5 million warrants.

MicroProbe of Bothell, Wash., and its underwriters, D. Blech &Co. Inc. and Commonwealth Associates, have priced the sharesat $6.50 to $8, said Gregory Sessler, MicroProbe's chief financialofficer.

MicroProbe is designing and synthesizing oligonucleotides to beused both as therapeutics and diagnostics. In therapeutics, thecompany is developing gene blockers, which specifically bind toand inactivate disease-gene DNA; and protein blockers, whichact at least in part by selectively inhibiting certain proteinsthat are critical to the growth and reproduction of cells andviruses.

The company has already developed and is marketing DNAprobe-based diagnostic systems. One of these, the Affirm VPsystem, is a direct DNA probe test for in-office diagnosis ofvaginitis. The test has been on the market in the U.S. sinceOctober 1992.

MicroProbe received permission from the FDA last January toexport its Affirm DP microbial identification test system to 11countries. The assay, which has not yet been approved in theU.S., is a direct DNA probe test for in-office detection andidentification of the microorganisms associated withperiodontal disease.

MicroProbe's most recent fund-raising, also led by D. Blech &Co., was a private placement of $8 million in equity to a groupof investors last February.

MicroProbe, which had about $2.9 million in cash as of June 30,according to Sessler, intends to use the proceeds from the IPOfor R&D, sales and marketing, working capital and the defenseof proprietary rights.

The company is in the midst of a lawsuit with DNA probecompetitor Gen-Probe Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary ofChugai Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd. GenProbe of San Diego suedMicroProbe in May, alleging infringement of its patent ondetecting, identifying and quantitating non-viral organismsthrough the targeting of ribosomal RNA sequences.

A month later, MicroProbe countersued, holding that the patentis invalid and unenforceable, and that none of MicroProbe'sactivities or products infringe. The companies are bothcurrently in the "discovery stage" of the litigation, explainedSessler.

"We're still in the early stages," he said. "Based on theinformation we've received from the court, we're anticipatingthat any action related to a trial will commence in mid-1994."-- Jennifer Van Brunt

-- Jennifer Van Brunt Senior Editor

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