SYDNEY, Australia ¿ Peplin Biotech Ltd. in Brisbane plans a major Phase II trial next year for a treatment for skin cancer, after promising results from a pilot study of advanced skin cancer patients at a Brisbane hospital.

Peplin Managing Director Gary Redlich said the company was in discussions with a major pharmaceutical company about conducting a registration trial involving 250 patients in both the U.S. and Australia.

He declined to give any details about the negotiations.

Redlich said the results from the 50-patient pilot study at Brisbane¿s Mater Hospital proved promising. All the patients involved had either already been unsuccessfully treated with existing techniques, or could not be treated for one reason or another. The patients had been given Peplin¿s PEP 001, and follow-up studies had shown a success rate of around 90 percent.

Redlich said that as PEP 001 consisted of three similar compounds in one treatment, one molecule would be selected for the major trials.

In addition to the PEP 001 trials, Peplin has announced that it has taken out patents on three compounds affecting the human immune system.

Redlich said that the compounds involved stimulating the ¿innate¿ immune system ¿ a system using the lymph ducts, a more primitive and more powerful system than the main ¿cognate¿ system ¿ and on improving the interaction between the innate and cognate systems.

The patents are part of a basic research breakthrough made by the company¿s contract researchers, and considerably more work has to be done to create any commercial product, he said.

The announcement did not have noticeable effect on Peplin¿s share price, which finished last week at $1. However, the company¿s share price has been rising since it hit a low of A$0.63 in March.

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