By Kim Coghill

Washington Editor

IntraBiotics Pharmaceuticals Inc. and Cetek Corp. entered a collaboration to identify compounds with antibacterial and antifungal properties using Cetek¿s capillary electrophoresis screening technology.

James Little, senior vice president of Cetek, would not discuss financial arrangements of the deal, but did say the agreement is scheduled to last one year with an option to renew.

IntraBiotics, founded in 1994 and based in Mountain View, Calif., develops novel antibacterial and antifungal drugs for the treatment and prevention of infectious diseases, including those caused by multidrug-resistant pathogens.

¿We have technology that is extremely valuable for screening natural products and in this collaboration we are going to screen natural product extracts against anti-infective targets supplied by IntraBiotics,¿ Little said. ¿Typically we are a fee-for-service screening company, but in this collaboration we are really working together to discover new drug candidates. It is different than fee-for-service because we are really working as a team.¿

Little said the research will be conducted at Cetek¿s facility, located in Marlborough, Mass. Cetek, a privately held company, was formed four and a half years ago and has 60 employees. Little said the company is within a couple of years of its initial public offering.

No one at IntraBiotics could be reached for comment, but Kenneth Kelley, the company¿s chairman and CEO, released a prepared statement saying, ¿We are extremely pleased to collaborate with Cetek Corp. We perceive a rich opportunity in natural product screening, thanks to recent advances in screening technology such as those developed by Cetek. The broad IntraBiotics product pipeline currently has programs at all stages of development ¿ from research to Phase III clinical trials. By leveraging the most advanced tools available, we look at this collaboration to help sustain a stream of leads into that product development pipeline for the future.¿

Cetek¿s technology, originally developed in Barry Karger¿s laboratory at the Barnett Institute of Northeastern University in Boston and licensed to Cetek, combines laser-induced fluorescence or UV detection with high-resolution capillary electrophoresis.

Cetek has collaborations with several companies, including Pharmacia Corp., of Peapack, N.J.; Schering-Plough Corp., of Kenilworth, N.J.; and Genome Therapeutics Corp., of Waltham, Mass.

IntraBiotics¿ lead product candidate, iseganan HCl oral solution (formerly known as Protegrin IB-367 Rinse) for oral mucositis, is in Phase III clinical studies. The company also is conducting Phase III clinical trials on a second product, ramoplanin oral powder, for the prevention of vancomycin-resistant enterococci bloodstream infections in cancer patients.

IntraBiotics¿ stock dropped 33 percent (to close at $2.875) in mid-March when the company announced that Phase III clinical trials for ramoplanin oral would be delayed a year due to slow enrollment. The trial began enrollment last June and as of March had enrolled 104 of the planned 950 patients at two of the targeted 51 clinical trial sites in the U.S. (See BioWorld Today, March 13, 2001.)

IntraBiotics¿ stock (NASDAQ:IBPI) gained 5 cents Tuesday to close at $2.15.

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