Houston Biotechnology Inc. said a Phase I/II trial of its immunotoxinfor prevention of secondary cataract showed a trend toward less lenscapsule opacification.The stock (AMEX:HBI) of The Woodlands, Texas, company morethan doubled in value on the news, even though a two-year follow-up period is included in the protocol. The stock went from 94 centsper share to $2.50 on Friday, a gain of 166 percent. The companyhas about 5.6 million shares outstanding.While providing no quantitative data, Houston Biotechnology saidreduction was seen in the percentage and severity of theopacification of the posterior capsule. The product, 4197X-RAImmunotoxin, is designed to remove residual lens epithelial cells,which contribute to secondary cataract in as many as half the patientswho undergo primary cataract surgery.Objectives of the study were assessing safety and dosing, seeing ahint of efficacy and learning more to help design a Phase III study, J.Russell Denson, the company's president and CEO, told BioWorld.Results of the 63-patient, placebo-controlled, double-blinded study,together with an ongoing Phase II study testing the immunotoxin inbilateral cataracts (one eye drug, one placebo), should provide thedata necessary to finalize the dose and define efficacy endpoints, hesaid.Results of the Phase I/II trial were graded during patient visits, bycomputer imaging analysis, and by a committee of three cataractsurgeons using posterior lens capsule photographs. "All three areasrevealed that patients treated with Immunotoxin had lessopacification than those not treated," Denson said.The immunotoxin is injected after primary cataract surgery. Densonsaid complete results should be available in mid-1996. _ Jim Shrine
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