CytRx Corp. decided to discontinue its development ofits skin-care product, TherMax, before knowing whetherit worked or not.

The Atlanta company, which has about $33 million incash, instead is focusing its efforts on the most promisingprograms that offer the best return on investment, JimYahres, the company's vice president of finance, toldBioWorld. "With TherMax, we determined thedevelopment time frame was going to be longer thanoriginally anticipated, and the market potential was lowerthan we thought."

CytRx initiated Phase II trials of TherMax in July. Itintended to enroll 40 patients in a wound-healingindication, and later take the lotion into a psoriasis trial.The company said at that time it also was talking aboutlooking at TherMax in ocular indications.

Yahres said the company's first hint that the marketpotential was not what it had hoped came with slowenrollment in the trial, which was going to evaluate thedermatin sulfate's ability to reduce inflammation and painassociated with burn healing.

Yahres said CytRx saw nothing in the trial to showTherMax didn't work. "We had not generated enoughdata in the Phase II program to have statisticallysignificant positive data, either," he said, "and we didn'twant to take the time or expense to do that." Yahres saidCytRx spent about $500,000 this year on the drug, whichwas developed as a result of a company scientist'shypothesis.

CytRx said it is burning $2 million to $2.5 million perquarter. At that rate the company's cash would last aboutthree and a half years.

CytRx said it will push forward with drug candidateProtox, a non-ionic block copolymer, expected to go intoPhase I trials in mid-1995. Yahres said the surface activemolecule interacts with membranes of cells, and mayrestore the effects of antibiotic medications in antibiotic-resistant infections. "We plan to aggressively seekcorporate partners" for Protox, he said.

CytRx made its TherMax announcement Thursdayafternoon. It's stock (NASDAQ:CYTR) was down 13cents Thursday and up 6 cents Friday, closing at $1.81per share. _ Jim Shrine

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