By Randall Osborne

Cytogen Corp. is shutting down its subsidiary, Cellcor Inc., as of today, after failing to find a buyer for the firm.

Joseph Reiser, recently appointed president and CEO of Princeton, N.J.-based Cytogen said in a press release that the "painful" decision to close Cellcor will let Cytogen "focus our resources toward more effective product development and delivery of existing products to the marketplace."

Cytogen's approved products include Quadramet, a radiopharmaceutical drug for pain from bone cancer; ProstaScint, a diagnostic imaging agent for prostate cancer; and OncoScint CR/OV, a monoclonal antibody for detecting colorectal and ovarian cancers.

The company will cut its staff by 30 percent, including the Cellcor employees.

Cellcor's lead program was autologous lymphocyte therapy, an ex vivo procedure designed to activate the patient's immune system. White blood cells are removed, and killer and helper T cells are activated and infused back into the patient, where they attack tumors and viruses.

The procedure has been tested in Phase III trials with kidney cancer patients, but development was halted in March. (See BioWorld Today, March 27, 1998, p. 1.)

In July, Cytogen set a 25-day deadline to find a buyer, after an apparently strong deal with an unnamed company fell through. (See BioWorld Today, July 29, 1998, p. 1.)

Last month, Cytogen and Elan Corp., of Dublin, scrapped their joint oncology venture, Targon Corp., a move that gave Cytogen $4 million in cash — half of which represented a new, seven-year note issued to Elan International Services Ltd., convertible at Elan's option at a price of $2.80 per share. (See BioWorld Today, Aug. 17, 1998, p. 1.)

Reiser said in the press release that Cytogen will "evaluate and implement other measures as needed to ensure progress toward achieving stockholder value."

In 1995, when Cytogen bought it for stock valued at $19.5 million, Cellcor was down to its last month of cash. (See BioWorld Today, June 19, 1995, p. 1.)

Cytogen will record a special charge in the third quarter for severance and other expenses related to closing Cellcor. The company's stock (NASDAQ:CYTO) closed Thursday at $0.812, down $0.062. *