By Randall Osborne

Until it finds a collaborator to help advance its autologous lymphocyte therapy (ALT), Cytogen Corp. has suspended the program, reducing annual spending by about $5 million.

"The primary objective is to break even in profitability as soon as we can," said John Bagalay, chief financial officer and CEO of Princeton, N.J.-based Cytogen.

Cytogen gained ALT in 1995 when it acquired Cellcor, of Newton, Mass., for stock valued at about $19.5 million. (See BioWorld Today, June 19, 1995 p. 1.)

"We're very high on it, and have been since we first got into it," Bagalay said. "But as a young biotech company, you do this kind of thing with a partner or you accept the consequences of going it alone."

ALT involves 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 find and attack tumors and viruses. The procedure has been tested in Phase III trials with kidney cancer patients. (See BioWorld Today, Sept. 26, 1995, p. 1.)

"The problem has nothing to do with whether we have the information to take it forward," Bagalay said. "We've got all the data. It's ready to go for a filing [with the FDA]."

Bagalay declined to disclose the company's cash on hand, saying the company's routine filing of financial information would be available shortly from the Securities and Exchange Commission.

As of Sept. 30, 1997, the most recent filing, Cytogen had $4.87 million, with a net loss of $11.9 million for that quarter.

In December, Cytogen raised the first $7.5 million of a financing commitment that totals a potential $20 million from a small group of private investors buying 6 percent convertible preferred stock. (See BioWorld Today, Dec. 11, 1997, p. 1.)

"[The rest] could come in June or July, if we draw it at all," Bagalay said.

Cytogen has three products on the market: Quadramet, a radiopharmaceutical drug for pain in bone cancer victims; ProstaScint, a diagnostic imaging agent for prostate cancer; and OncoScint CR/OV, a monoclonal antibody for detecting colorectal and ovarian cancers.

The company's stock (NASDAQ:CYTO) closed Thursday at $2, down $0.343. *