LifeTime Pharmaceuticals Inc. acquired the rights to the anticancer compound Beta-alethine from Dovetail Technologies Inc. for equity that amounts to one-third of LifeTime, said Floyd Taub, chairman of both the LifeTime and Dovetail boards.

In 1999, LifeTime and Dovetail both of College Park, Md. entered an agreement whereby LifeTime sublicensed the compound in a standard industry arrangement, including royalty payments, requirements to buy product and other research and development payments and milestones, Taub said.

“The new agreement is very important because it decreases our costs very significantly and simplifies the arrangement so that when a venture group looks at LifeTime, it’s very clear that all the money that’s going to be made from this drug will stay in LifeTime Pharmaceuticals,” Taub said.

The technology is owned by the University of New Mexico and was sublicensed to privately held DoveTail, but LifeTime now owns the sublicense, Taub said, acknowledging that LifeTime made “a substantial payment” to acquire it.

Taub has his hands full, as he serves as chairman of the board and is the principal shareholder of both companies.

“That’s actually why this deal is so important,” Taub said. “It cuts the apron strings that Lifetime had with Dovetail.”

Beta-alethine (Beta LT) is a small molecule that works by stimulating the immune system to fight cancer. It is in Phase I/II trials in lymphoma and myeloma, and those trials are winding down now, he said. Results of those trials were reported at the American Society of Hematology in Orlando, Fla., in December, and the findings indicated there was immune stimulation, evidence of tumor response and no significant toxicity, Taub said. It is being tested in humans as a single agent, and may in the future be tested as one component of an overall treatment program.

Taub said Phase III trials will get under way once the next major round of financing is completed.

In the meantime, privately held LifeTime has licensed from the University of Maryland a technology platform that allows second-generation recombinant DNA molecules to be made, as well as a new recombinant interferon that is less toxic, he said.

LifeTime also is in the process of acquiring immune system stimulating technology from Stanford University and other academic institutions, Taub said.