Houghten Pharmaceuticals has begun Phase I clinical trials of HP 228to determine the safety of the small molecule compound for treatinginflammation and pain.Costas Loullis, Houghten's vice president for product development,told BioWorld Today that HP 228 is designed to restrain the negativeeffects of cytokines, such as interleukin 1 (IL-1) and tumor necrosisfactor (TNF), without disrupting their immune functions.If the safety trials are successful, the San Diego-based company said itwill seek approval from the FDA to conduct Phase II clinical trials fortreating pain in cancer patients.The Phase I trials will involve 18 volunteers who will receiveescalating doses of the drugs.Houghton's president and CEO, Robert Whitehead, said HP 228 mayhave application in a broad variety of inflammatory diseases.Two other potential applications, according to Loullis, are treatment ofpain and inflammation following surgery and prevention ofcyclosporin-induced renal toxicity.In preclinical trials, Loullis said HP 228 demonstrated efficacy in fiveareas: restraining production of TNF, IL-1 and IL-6 provoked bybacterial endotoxin; inhibiting endotoxin-induced neutrophil traffickinginto rat lungs; reducing inflammation and pain caused by subcutaneousinjection if either carrageenan or IL-1 or surgical incision; andpreserving bone density and aerobic fitness in rats subjected to 14 daysimmobilization.Houghten is focusing its product development on cytokine restrainingagents and small molecule hematopoietic growth factors. _ CharlesCraig

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