Celtrix Pharmaceuticals Inc. has signed a licensing agreement with theGreen Cross Corp., of Japan, for the development andcommercialization of SomatoKine for the treatment of osteoporosis inJapan, the company said on Tuesday.SomatoKine is a recombinant complex of insulin-like growth factor(IGF-I) and its binding protein, BP3. Celtrix officials said preclinicalstudies have demonstrated that it offers potential as a hormonereplacement therapy, stimulating formation of muscle and bone mass.The deal with Osaka-based Green Cross is Celtrix's first involvingSomatoKine.Green Cross is responsible for all research, development and marketingof SomatoKine for osteoporosis in Japan. Celtrix, of Santa Clara,Calif., will receive licensing fees, milestone payments and royalties onany product sales. Celtrix retains full rights to SomatoKine outsideJapan and rights to any developments made by Green Cross regardingthe product.Sandra McNamara, Celtrix's vice president and chief financial officer,told BioWorld the agreement involves undisclosed up-front and annuallicense fees, and milestone payments primarily tied to clinicaldevelopment. She said Celtrix plans to retain rights for otherindications."Our intention is to use our own resources to develop the product,mostly for muscle-wasting diseases," McNamara said, adding thatCeltrix may develop SomatoKine further for osteoporosis beforelicensing it out for that indication in other parts of the world.She said Celtrix hopes to have SomatoKine in the clinic within twoyears for an indication not yet determined. But McNamara said it maybe useful in treating wasting conditions associated with chronicobstructive pulmonary disease, cancer and AIDS, as well asosteoporosis, ophthalmic diseases and wound repair."In working on our own and with Green Cross over the years, we havegrown increasingly enthusiastic about the potential of SomatoKine,"said Dale Stringfellow, president and CEO of Celtrix. "Green Cross hasimpressive product-development, manufacturing and marketingcapabilities. Importantly, we will have full access to all data andtechnology developed by Green Cross related to SomatoKine."Last week, Celtrix announced a collaboration involving its leadproduct, BetaKine, with Genzyme Corp., which acquired worldwiderights (excluding Asia) for all systemic and tissue-repair applications ofthe recombinant transforming growth factor beta-2. Genzyme, ofCambridge, Mass., bought $10 million of Celtrix stock and will makemilestone payments, as well as buying product from Celtrix throughPhase I/II trials. Celtrix kept all rights in the ophthalmic areas.Celtrix (NASDAQ: CTRX) stock closed unchanged Tuesday at $6.25.n

-- Jim Shrine

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