By Randall Osborne

As it gears up for a Phase III study of its monoclonal antibody for chronic lymphocytic leukemia, LeukoSite Inc. is broadening its small-molecule drug discovery and marketing agreements with two other companies.

LeukoSite, of Cambridge, Mass., is expanding its deals with Warner-Lambert Co., of Morris Plains, N.J., and Kyowa Hakko Kogyo Co., of Tokyo, to use its chemokine and chemokine receptor technology in developing new treatments for inflammatory and autoimmune diseases.

"These programs are all in the discovery stage," said Gus Lawlor, vice president of corporate development and chief financial officer for LeukoSite.

The deal combines the companies' resources to collaborate on small molecules that block four different chemokine receptors on white blood cells. Chemokines are the chemical messengers that summon leukocytes to injured or inflamed tissues. Among the targeted diseases are atherosclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, myocardial infarction, multiple sclerosis and psoriasis.

Part of the collaboration involves marketing, with Kyowa Hakko becoming the primary marketer in Asia and Warner-Lambert the primary marketer in the rest of the world of any products developed during the collaboration.

Lawlor said the company had three programs with Warner-Lambert, with which LeukoSite first collaborated in 1994, and two programs with Kyowa Hakko, with which it first collaborated in April of this year.

In the latest deal, all programs but one of Warner-Lambert's — involving a receptor implicated in HIV — were combined, Lawlor said. "For the most part, Japanese companies are less interested in HIV," Lawlor said.

Three Antibodies In Clinical Trials

LeukoSite has three monoclonal antibodies in development. LDP-01, for kidney transplants from cadavers, is in a Phase I/IIa study. LDP-02, for inflammatory bowel disease, is expected to enter the clinic early next year. LDP-03, for chronic lymphocytic leukemia, was in-licensed from London-based Glaxo Wellcome plc, is expected to enter "Phase III or at least pivotal licensing studies" early next year, Lawlor said.

In May LeukoSite collaborated with ILEX Oncology Inc., of San Antonio, to form L&I Partners LP and develop Campath-1H, a monoclonal antibody licensed from London-based British Technology group. (See BioWorld Today, May 15, 1997, p. 2.)

LeukoSite's stock (NASDAQ:LKST) closed Tuesday at $11.50, unchanged. *

No Comments