CollaGenex Pharmaceuticals Inc. found a new outlet for its IMPACS compounds, signing a deal with medical technology company Medtronic Inc. to explore the use of the products in combination with medical devices.

Although financial details of the agreement were not disclosed, Robert Ashley, CollaGenex's senior vice president, commercial development, told BioWorld Today the weight of the deal can be measured in other ways.

"It's a research deal; it's a fairly early stage deal," he said. "But it's a validation of the utility of these compounds that have the ability to prevent inflammation and tissue degradation. It's an excellent validation of the potential of the compounds."

Medtronic, of Minneapolis, gets an exclusive, worldwide license to technology relating to the use of the IMPACS (inhibitors of multiple proteases and cytokines) to treat aortic aneurysms and other forms of vascular disease with medical devices. More specifically, the deal covers the local delivery of the IMPACS compounds through stent and stent graft vascular devices to control inflammation and connective tissue destruction by regulating inflammatory cytokines and tissue-destructive enzymes.

Research has suggested that aneurysms might be caused by the inflammation and destruction of connective tissue that makes up the aortic wall. That research, Ashley said, might have helped close the deal.

"Stent manufacturers are clearly looking for things to put on their stents," he said. "[Medtronic] was looking for something they could use to coat their aneurysm stents and keep the inflammation from continuing, and that was the initial basis for the discussions between the companies."

The IMPACS compounds work "by a variety of different mechanisms," Ashley said. They are inhibitors of proteolytic activity and down-regulators of inflammatory cytokine activity. They also seem to be associated with the down-regulation of neutrophil activation. All of which, he said, is associated with "aneurism growth and blood vessel wall weakness."

Periostat, CollaGenex's drug indicated for periodontitis, brought the company nearly $30 million in revenue in 2001, Ashley said. CollaGenex, of Newtown, Pa., expects that number to grow in 2002, and is planning to release third-quarter figures soon. CollaGenex has clinical trials of Periostat under way for rosacea and meibomianitis (dry eye). It also has Metastat in Phase II trials in Kaposi's sarcoma.

It was just last week that CollaGenex and Discovery Laboratories Inc., of Doylestown, Pa., announced they would collaborate on preclinical evaluation of an aerosolized formulation of Discovery's humanized lung surfactants combined with the IMPACS compounds for the treatment of respiratory diseases. Work there is expected to focus on chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, cystic fibrosis, chronic interstitial lung disease and acute lung injury.

CollaGenex's stock (NASDAQ:CGPI) rose 64 cents Monday, or 12.4 percent, to close at $5.80.