Neurex Corp. said Monday that it completed its acquisition of CreagenInc., a privately held Boston company with a pro-urokinase product inPhase II trials.Neurex, of Menlo Park, Calif., will issue about 1.95 million shares ofstock (NASDAQ: NXCO) for all shares of Creagen. Based on Friday'sclosing price of $4.38, the deal is worth is about $8.5 million. Neurexstock price was unchanged Monday.Paul Goddard, chairman and CEO of Neurex, said there were threethings that made Creagen an attractive purchase: gaining the rights topro-urokinase, a thrombolytic agent; getting the Walk ThroughMutagenesis technology, a protein-engineering approach in earlydevelopment; and Roberto Crea, Creagen's chairman and CEO, whopreviously worked at Genentech Inc. and founded CreativeBioMolecules Inc., of Hopkinton, Mass."It's a deal which very much complements our current focus anddirection," Goddard told BioWorld. "We have emerged with a strategyto focus our product portfolio in the acute care area."Goddard said the pro-urokinase product has a different profile thanexisting thrombolytics, especially in its lack of bleeding, and may beuseful in a number of areas where clots need to be cleared. Neurex alsogets rights to a set of composition-of-matter patents for pro-urokinase,which was licensed exclusively from the Vascular Research Laboratoryat Deaconess Hospital in Boston.Goddard said pro-urokinase, a plasminogen activator, already hascompleted Phase III studies in Europe and is awaiting filing for marketapproval, with an initial indication of acute myocardial infarction.European marketing partners already are in place, he said.The protein-engineering technology is a proprietary approach tocreating protein mutants to improve or change target molecules such asenzyme or catalytic antibodies.Crea and a "handful" of scientists and research technicians will joinNeurex in Menlo Park. A new company, C-Star Inc., will take overCreagen's facility in Boston. Goddard said Neurex took a minoritystake in C-Star and licensed the Walk Through Mutagenesis technologyto the company in the areas of immunology and diabetes. SomeCreagen employees will work at C-Star.Neurex recently initiated Phase II trials of SNX-111, a neuron-specificcalcium channel blocker, for brain damage following ischemia. Thecompany is awaiting FDA approval to begin a Phase I/II study of SNX-111 in cancer and AIDS patients. And Neurex is in Phase III tests ofCorlopam, which it licensed from SmithKline Beecham in April, fortreatment of accelerated hypertension, congestive heart failure andacute renal failure. n
-- Jim Shrine
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