West Coast Editor

In news unrelated except that it was negative, AltraRex Corp. and Nexell Therapeutics Inc., both publicly trading at under one dollar, disclosed their financial troubles the former saying it has only enough cash to get through the next month, and the latter saying its funds for operations won’t last until June.

Neither company returned phone calls.

Waltham, Mass.-based AltraRex said in a press release it “continues to pursue various financing alternatives” and may restructure, but “believes that there remains a range of options to pursue.”

AltaRex has the monoclonal antibody OvaRex MAb (oregovomab) in development, and said in February that, after the firm took a hit on the market due to mixed results from a Phase IIb trial, a re-analysis of the data showed the drug reached statistical significance against metastatic late-stage ovarian cancer, after all. (See BioWorld Today, Feb. 1, 2002.)

AltaRex’s stock (TSE:AXO) ended Thursday at C71 cents, down C11 cents.

Nexell, of Irvine, Calif., sold its cell processing tools business to Deerfield, Ill.-based Baxter Healthcare Corp. so that Nexell could focus on therapeutic applications of that technology and stem cell work. The move, however eliminated “substantially all of the company’s product revenue,” it said.

In a deal closed in September, Baxter acquired certain assets and liabilities of Nexell’s cell processing systems sales, marketing and distribution business, as well as worldwide sales, marketing and distribution rights for the related products, for about $4.3 million and royalties.

Nexell said in a press release it is exploring both financing and strategic business combinations with the intention of “strengthening its financial condition,” but nothing had been decided upon. Also, the company said it attempted to raise funds through a private placement of equity securities, but terminated the move to focus on potential business combinations.

An option, Nexell noted, might be to convert its existing two series of preferred stock to common stock, thereby eliminating the liquidation preference. In the conversion of Series B preferred stock, the company said, Baxter could end up owning “substantially in excess of a majority of the outstanding common stock.”

Nexell had $5.1 million in cash as of Dec. 31, 2001, as compared to $12.1 million at the end of the previous year. Nexell’s stock (NASDAQ:NEXL) closed Thursday at 53 cents, down 55 cents, or about 51 percent.