Sheffield Medical Technologies Inc., believing in the breadth andpotential of its anti-proliferative program, is spinning off the workinto a new subsidiary.

Ion Pharmaceuticals Inc. will have offices in the Boston area so it candirect the work being done at area hospitals affiliated with HarvardMedical School. Michael Zeldin, who co-founded Procept Inc. in1985 and has been running the independent consulting firmCambridge Biomedical Management since 1989, was named CEO ofIon Pharmaceuticals.

"We have advanced our anti-proliferative program to a point wherewe feel that it can stand on its own as a platform technology capableof generating a broad portfolio of drugs for numerous diseaseapplications," said Douglas Eger, chairman of New York-basedSheffield. "The formation of Ion Pharmaceuticals will allow us tosecure additional funding to accelerate and expand this programwhile freeing Sheffield's resources for other development programs."

The anti-proliferative program is based on work done by JoseHalperin at Harvard Medical School in which certain compoundshave shown promise in conditions caused by abnormal cellproliferation. New small molecules based on the antifungal agentclotrimazole have been developed.

Ion Pharmaceuticals holds a worldwide license from Harvard foranti-proliferative uses of the compounds, and has an option to workbeing done at Children's Hospital in Boston, where the compoundshave shown promise in sickle cell anemia. Potential disease targetsfor the new company are cancers, sickle cell anemia andgastrointestinal disorders.

Sheffield is funding the subsidiary, which now is in the mode ofseeking private financing, said Zeldin, who added there was a realneed to focus resources on the anti-proliferative efforts because theprogram was past the normal start-up risks. "We have proof ofprinciple in hand," he said.

In a five-patient study, the anti-proliferative drug SCHAL-1SCAreduced the dehydration and sickling of red blood cells associatedwith sickle cell anemia. Those results were reported in the March 1,1996, issue of The Journal of Clinical Investigation.

Ion Pharmaceuticals owns new compounds derived from or inspiredby clotrimazole, as well as novel uses for the drugs. The companycalls the class of compounds "trifens." Ion Pharmaceuticals ispreparing two of the compounds for human studies in dermatologiccancer indications, Zeldin said. n

-- Jim Shrine

(c) 1997 American Health Consultants. All rights reserved.