Celtrix Pharmaceuticals Inc. laid off another 20 employees as thecompany continued to regroup following discontinued development(two months ago) of BetaKine, a recombinant transforming growthfactor beta-2, for ophthalmic conditions.

The Santa Clara, Calif., company has reduced its work force to about70 people and is concentrating its resources on SomatoKine fortreatment of muscle wasting diseases and osteoporosis. SomatoKine,expected to enter Phase I trials in the U.S. next year, is an insulin-likegrowth factor-1 coupled with a binding protein involved in muscleand bone formation.

The restructuring is designed to reduce Celtrix's $13.5 million annualburn rate by 20 percent a year, or $2.6 million. The company ended1994 with $23.6 million in cash and said it will have enough funds tokeep operating into mid-1997.

"There could be other changes," said Mary Anne Ribi, Celtrix's vicepresident and chief financial officer. "We will continue to look forways to conserve cash."

Celtrix's stock (NASDAQ:CTRX) closed Wednesday at $1.37, up 6cents.

Ribi said discussions are ongoing with a number of companies forpartnerships focusing on SomatoKine outside Japan. Celtrix has acollaboration with Green Cross Corp., of Japan, for development ofSomatoKine to treat osteoporosis in that country.

The reduction in staff Wednesday was the second round of lay-offsfor Celtrix since it announced in late October that preliminaryfindings in its Phase III trials of BetaKine for treatment of macularholes, a potentially blinding eye disorder, were inconclusive.

The company subsequently laid off 50 of its 150 employees,trimming $8 million in expenses. Celtrix discontinued its BetaKineprogram in February after the drug failed in Phase II studies for age-related macular degeneration.

BetaKine still is under development by Genzyme Corp., ofCambridge, Mass., which licensed the drug for non-ophthalmic conditions. Genzyme is conducting clinical trials ofBetaKine for leg ulcers and multiple sclerosis. n

-- Charles Craig

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