Ciba-Geigy Ltd. is making a $5 million equity investment inOncogene Science Inc. in exchange for rights to Oncogene'srecombinant transforming growth factor-a 3 (TGF-a 3) in thetreatment of oral mucositis in cancer chemotherapy patients.

Pfizer Inc., of New York, which had rights to TGF-a 3 for thatindication, and Oncogene will get royalties on Ciba sales.

Ciba, of Basel, Switzerland, already has rights to TGF-a 3 forwound-healing indications. It now has an option to other indicationsof the protein for another $10 million.

"The whole program now is with Ciba," Matthew Haines,Oncogene's director of corporate communications, told BioWorld."Ciba has long had an interest in TGF-a 3, and has expertise inbiologicals. Pfizer is more expert in small molecules.

"[The deal] is certainly going to help TGF-a 3 going forward," hesaid. "It adds to our balance sheet, and could lead to a largercollaboration."

A company spokesman told BioWorld he could not disclose the priceper share to be paid by Ciba, but said it was at "a significant premiumto the market." Oncogene's stock (NASDAQ:ONCS) closed at $3.25Thursday, up 31 cents. The company has about 16.3 million sharesoutstanding (not including this investment).

The equity investment was Ciba's first in Uniondale, N.Y.-basedOncogene. Ciba also has been funding development work in thewound-healing area, and later will take over funding in the oralmucositis indication.

Ciba completed a Phase I U.S. trial of TGF-a 3 earlier this year inchronic skin wounds. In Europe, a Phase IB/II trial is ongoing inchronic venous leg ulcers and pressure sores.

Separately, Oncogene has collaborations ongoing with Pfizer oncancer therapeutics; with Wyeth-Ayerst Laboratories, of Radnor, Pa.,in diabetes, asthma, immune system modulation and osteoporosis;Marion Merrell Dow Inc., of Kansas City, Mo., in the cardiovasculararea; Hoechst AG, of Frankfurt, Germany, in inflammation, arthritis,and metabolic disease; and Hoechst Roussel Pharmaceuticals Inc., ofSomerville, N.J., in Alzheimer's disease. Those collaborations,mostly involving the development of gene transcription-based drugs,all are in the preclinical stage. n

-- Jim Shrine

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