An investigator reported Tuesday that Scios Inc.'s Natrecor BNP atcertain doses improved several measures of heart function. Theinterim data came from one of three ongoing Phase II trials of thesynthetic hormone.

Patients with acute congestive heart failure were administeredmultiple bolus injections of Natrecor over 24 hours. Specifically,improvements were seen in pulmonary capillary wedge pressure andright arterial pressure, said Kira Bacon, director of investor relationsfor the Mountain View, Calif., company.

Those quantitative measures "determine how the hemodynamics ofthe heart are functioning," Bacon said. "The objective is to have theheart pumping as efficiently as possible."

BNP (B-type natriuretic peptide) is a naturally occurring hormoneproduced primarily in the ventricles of the heart. High levels of BNPare found in those suffering from congestive heart failure. Earlierresearch showed BNP acted by dilating blood vessels, eliminatingsalt and water from the body and decreasing the secretion ofhormones that lead to blood vessel constriction and elevated bloodpressure.

Scios, which shortened its name from Scios Nova on Tuesday, has asecond 60-patient study ongoing involving multiple bolus injections.Another study, using drug infusions, calls for enrollment of 80patients. Bacon said enrollment in the entire Phase II program shouldbe completed in the first half of this year.

"If all goes well in the Phase II studies we would hope to initiatePhase III clinical studies sometime in the second half of this year,"Bacon said.

Scios' stock (NASDAQ:SCIO) lost 19 cents Tuesday to close at$4.75. _ Jim Shrine

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