Drug development firm Biolex is trying to going public.

The company, which is backed by Intersouth Partners in Durham, has filed for an $80 million initial public offering.

If successful, Biolex would trade on the Nasdaq under the symbol BLEX.

The IPO is being handled by Lehman Brothers and Deutsche Bank Securities, according to Private Equity Wire.

Intersouth holds a 20.3 percent stake in Biolex. Other investors and their holdings are: Johnson & Johnson Development Corp. (16.2%), Quaker BioVentures (14.9%), Polaris Venture Partners (11.4%), Investor Growth Capital (9.9%) and Mitsui & Co. Venture Partners (5.4%), PEW said. JP Morgan Securities, Easton Capital and Dow Venture Capital also are investors.

"Biolex expects to use the net proceeds from the offering to fund clinical trials, preclinical testing and other research and development activities, and for general and administrative expenses, working capital needs and other general corporate purposes," the company said in a statement.

Officials at Intersouth declined comment. 

The biopharmaceutical company, which is developing therapeutic products based antibodies developed through patented technology, has now raised nearly $100 million in venture funding since its launch in 1997. Biolex closed on $30 million in May.

The round was oversubscribed, meaning investors put more money into the firm than management had intended to raise.

"The response to this financing was outstanding and we believe that the additional expertise and resources of our new investors will complement the strong investor group that has supported the advancement of Biolex to date," said Jan Turek, chief executive officer of Biolex, in a statement.

The financing includes three new investors: Investor Growth Capital, JP Morgan Securities and Easton Capital. As part of the deal, Sunny Sharma, a vice president at Investor Growth Capital, joined the Biolex board.

Intersouth Partners, a longtime investor in Biolex, also participated in the round. Otherirms joining the deal were Quaker BioVentures, Polaris Venture Partners, Mitsui& Co. Venture Partners, Johnson & Johnson development Corporation and Dow Venture Capital.

Biolex is using the latest funds to help develop drug candidates, including its lead compound in Phase II clinical trials. The drug, called Locteron, is an intended treatment for hepatitis C.

Biolex uses the aquatic plant known as Lemna in its proprietary LEX System production process.

The company closed on $36 million in financing in 2005.