Texas Biotechnology Corp. will get $17 million, and likely at leasttwice that amount, in a collaboration with Synthlabo, of France, todevelop and market compounds for vascular proliferation disease.The first $17 million comes from a $3 million up-front licensingfee, a $5 million equity investment and $3 million per year for threeyears in research funding. The collaboration allows for furtherpayments of $3 million per year for six years, upon achievement ofcertain milestones, and at the first product registration, TexasBiotechnology would get advance royalties.Synthlabo bought about 1.43 million shares of TexasBiotechnology stock (NASDAQ:TXB.E) for $3.50 per share. TheFrench concern now owns about 8.4 percent of the company's 17million shares outstanding. Texas Biotechnology stock closed at$2.75 per share Tuesday, down 13 cents.Synthlabo will receive an exclusive license to manufacture, useand sell products generated in the collaboration, in Europe, theMiddle East, Africa and countries of the former Soviet Union.Texas Biotechnology retains rights in North America and Asia.Texas Biotechnology's vascular proliferation technologies arefocused on developing products for restenosis following invasivesurgical procedures. It is developing products in its antisenseoligonucleotide program to block the expression of specific genesinvolved in the abnormal proliferation of smooth muscle tissues.Later in the development stage is the company's work on a smallmolecule inhibitor of fibroblast growth factor, a protein involved inthe process of the proliferation of smooth muscle cells.Both of the those programs were in the company's developmentpipeline before its acquisition in July of ImmunoPharmaceuticsInc., a rational drug design company developing an endothelin Aantagonist."This alliance will allow us to accelerate our existing programs inrestenosis, as well as providing a significant cash infusion," JosephWelch, Texas Biotechnology's vice president of businessdevelopment, told BioWorld. The company plans to file aninvestigational new drug application on a compound in theantisense area in late 1995, he said, and develop a second-generation product in the FGF program for the restenosis and otherindications.Synthlabo, a subsidiary of Paris-based cosmetics giant L'Oreal,had net 1993 sales of U.S. $1.2 billion. Its focus is in the centralnervous system, cardiovascular, urology and gastroenterology.Synthlabo and Texas Biotechnology already are collaborating ondevelopment of Novastan, a synthetic thrombin inhibitor that inPhase II U.S. trials.Welch said Synthlabo's major product sales in Europe come in thecardiovascular area, and this deal enhances its research there. "Italso provides them an entry in the restenosis field," he said.Herv Gurin, chairman and CEO of Synthlabo, said in a pressrelease: "We are looking to expand our growing product pipeline bycollaborating with strong partners in their respective fields, partnerswho have the scientific know-how to develop novel approaches totreat disease. Texas Biotech is a leader in cardiovascular medicine."n

-- Jim Shrine

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