Zonagen Inc. announced Thursday that it has completed itsinitial public offering (IPO) of 1.35 million shares of commonstock at $5.50 per share.

The shares are trading on NASDAQ as ZONA. The company filedits registration statement in February with the Securities andExchange Commission's regional office in Fort Worth, Texas.

Reich & Co. Inc., the offering's underwriter, has an option topurchase an additional 202,500 shares of common stock tocover any overallotments.

Zonagen of The Woodlands, Texas, will use the net proceeds ofabout $6.8 million to pay back the bridge notes ($100,000) onwhich it has been operating, explained the company'spresident, Joseph Podolski, as well as for product research anddevelopment, and establishing a pilot manufacturing plant.

Zonagen, which was founded in 1987 on technology acquiredfrom Baylor College of Medicine in exchange for equity, isdeveloping human contraceptives and a series of products forsterilizing female companion animals such as cats and dogs. Itsproprietary technology centers on the use of recombinantantigens from the zona pellucida, the protein-rich coatingsurrounding a mammalian egg.

The zona pellucida (ZP) consists of three main proteins, whichare highly conserved across mammalian species, Podolski said."We've cloned and expressed the proteins from dogs, cats,cattle, rabbits, monkeys and humans," he told BioWorld. "All ofthem have these three proteins."

Zonagen researchers are able to produce an immune responsein animals against all three ZP antigens. The company filed forpatent protection on the technology last November, Podolskitold BioWorld, and already holds a patent on the use ofrecombinant ZP antigens as contraceptive reagents.

Animal studies have demonstrated that the antibody to one ofthe three ZP antigens "destroys all the eggs in the ovary. Thehormonal profile indicates that this is the surgical equivalent ofspaying in cats and dogs."

In contrast, antibodies to the other ZP antigens "don't disturbthe hormonal profile at all," but their administration to dogsand to rabbits does produce a transient infertility that lasts forabout a year, Podolski explained. "That infertility is onlypresent as long as there are circulating antibodies against theright protein."

Zonagen researchers have extended their studies to primates,in which "we can duplicate the results achieved in dogs andrabbits," said Podolski.

-- Jennifer Van Brunt Senior Editor

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