With Gilead Science Inc.'s $151 million follow-on offering last week, the biotech sector has raised more than $820 million in 1996 - and more than $3.4 billion since the fundraising window opened last August - which raises the obvious question about the continuing capacity of the capital markets to absorb more biotech shares.

The good news is that the lengthening biotech rally remains propelled by the same investors who began buying shares in the second half of last year. Now, the ranks of maturing companies with late-stage milestones will increasingly offer reasons for new investors to enter the sector.