By Lisa Seachrist

Immunomedics Inc. has restructured and made staff reductions to cut operating costs and refocus the company.

¿This was a necessary fiduciary activity for management of the company,¿ said Bob DeLuccia, president and CEO of Morris Plains, N.J.-based Immunomedics. ¿It¿s really part of a longer-term vision to bridge from imaging agents and move toward the therapeutic agents.¿

Immunomedics reduced its U.S. staff by 10 percent and re-deployed its sales force, expecting to reduce operating expenses by $3.5 million over the next year and incurring no significant costs in the restructuring.

The company sells its in vivo colorectal cancer imaging agent CEA-Scan in the U.S. and Europe. CEA-Scan consists of a monoclonal antibody fragment targeted against the cancer marker carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA), labeled with the diagnostic isotope technetium-99.

Immunomedics also markets LeukoScan in Europe and is awaiting regulatory approval in the U.S. LeukoScan is used to detect infections of the bone. The company has asked FDA to approve its use for acute atypical appendicitis as well.

With its sales force, Immunomedics is aiming to win new customers at major medical centers that will become what the company calls ¿Centers of Excellence¿ in treating colorectal cancer.

¿I think our initial build-up of Centers of Excellence will be a few dozen initially,¿ said DeLuccia. ¿We will expand from there.¿

LymphoCide Targets Non-Hodgkin¿s Lymphoma

The company will ramp up efforts on behalf of its two lead therapeutic products, LymphoCide and CEA-Cide. Currently in a Phase II study in Germany, CEA-Cide targets CEA-expressing tumors such as colorectal, pancreatic, breast, lung and ovarian cancers.

LymphoCide, using a radiolabeled agent and an unlabeled agent, is being tested in a Phase I/II trial in non-Hodgkin¿s lymphoma (NHL). The drug, an antibody targeted to CD22 receptors in B-cell lymphomas, appears to have anticancer activity against all grades of NHL.

In addition to developing its own pipeline, Immunomedics is contemplating in-licensing drug candidates. The company has hired a pharmaceutical consulting firm to assist in forming partnerships.

¿It¿s clearly on my radar screen to move aggressively to form attractive partnerships,¿ DeLuccia said. Immunomedics had $11.4 million in cash and cash equivalents at the end of December 1998. The company¿s stock (NASDAQ:IMMU) closed Monday at $2.375, down $0.312.